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Case for Coverage for Commercial Plans and Employers
Making the Case for Coverage for Commercial Plans and Employers
This section explains how to make the case to cover the National Diabetes Prevention Program (National DPP) lifestyle change program for commercial plans and employers, and is broken down into five stages. Click on a link below to go directly to that stage.
- Stage 1: Assessing Readiness- Where is the Organization in the Process?
- Stage 2: Preparing the Case for Coverage
- Stage 3: Planning the Benefit
- Stage 4: Assessing Success and Scalability
- Stage 5: Post-Program Launch
Why Making the Case for Coverage is Important
The National DPP lifestyle change program’s ability to improve health in participants and reduce health costs for payers is supported by a significant amount of evidence. Unfortunately, this evidence is not widely known. For employers and commercial plans to secure leadership support and funding for the National DPP lifestyle change program, they need to understand this evidence, as well as key decision points needed to plan a successful delivery. Many individuals could compile this information for an employer or a commercial plan, including a stakeholder within the organization, a broker, a benefit consultant, or another interested party, such as a public health department, a business group on health, or a CDC-recognized organization.
Studies supporting the efficacy of the National DPP lifestyle change program in preventing type 2 diabetes are compiled on the Evidence page of the Coverage Toolkit, and a downloadable comparison of these studies can be found in the National DPP Lifestyle Change Program Literature Review.
- Diabetes in adults has tripled in the past two decades; it is estimated that 1 in 3 adults in the US could have diabetes by 2050.1
- Diabetes is the costliest of the 155 most common diseases in the country, at $237 billion in direct medical costs and $90 billion in indirect costs (e.g., reduced productivity and absenteeism) in 2017 – an increase of 60% from 2007.2, 3
- Annual medical expenditures for people diagnosed with diabetes is $16,750 per year – 2.3 times as much as those without diabetes.4
- Diabetes doubles the risk of physical disability; adults with diabetes who are 50 years of age or older lose independence 6 to 7 years before their peers without diabetes.4
Employers: Sign up for NACDD’s Employer Network to connect with other benefits and wellness professionals who have adopted the National DPP lifestyle change program as a covered benefit for their employees, and stay aware of new resources and tools to make your diabetes prevention work easier.
The Unique Positioning of Employers with a Self-Funded Health Plan
The case for coverage may be particularly well received by employers with a self-funded health plan. When employers use a self-funded health plan, the employer is responsible for managing the financial risk of providing benefits to its employees and their eligible family members. This means that the employer is on the front line for managing health plan expenses and containing cost increases. Therefore, these employers are highly motivated to implement changes that will contain health care costs and are likely to be more receptive to offering the National DPP lifestyle change program.
Stage 1: Assessing Readiness
Is the Organization Ready to Cover the National DPP Lifestyle Change Program?
Thoughtful planning will lead to a more successful implementation of the National DPP lifestyle change program. The Readiness Assessment documents above can help commercial plans and employers think critically about where they are in their preparations for coverage and help identify next steps.
Stage 2: Preparing the Case for Coverage
Case for Coverage Templates
Preparing a case for covering the National DPP lifestyle change program does not have to be time consuming or intimidating. Several organizations have created templates to facilitate making the case for coverage, such as:
- CDC has created an editable Presentation Template for Employers and a Presentation Template for Commercial Plans, which can be used as a starting place when building a case for coverage presentation.
- To supplement the CDC Presentation Templates, NACDD and Leavitt Partners created the Case for Coverage: Commercial Presentation Outline, which contains tips for presenting, and additional information, statistics, and graphics that can be added to the CDC Presentation Templates.
- The American Medical Association created an editable case for coverage presentation template for health care organizations offering the National DPP lifestyle change program to their employees, which can be found here. Many of the arguments in this presentation could apply to a broader audience.
Identify the Decision Makers and Potential Advocates
A key step to preparing the case for coverage is identifying the decision-makers or potential advocates within an organization who may have leverage or interest in pursuing coverage of the National DPP lifestyle change program. For employers, the individual responsible for benefits and/or wellness typically plays a critical role in making or evaluating the case for coverage. This individual’s title may be the Director of Benefits, Director of Wellness, Wellness Program Manager, Chief Medical Officer, Corporate Director of Human Resources, or an equivalent title.
State Health Departments can also be strong advocates for the National DPP lifestyle change program. Each state is funded by the CDC’s Division of Diabetes Translation to scale the National DPP by increasing awareness of prediabetes and increasing referrals to, availability of, and coverage for the National DPP lifestyle change program. Most states have dedicated staff who focus on these efforts. The State Health Department should be considered a resource for payers in regard to the National DPP, and other evidence-based interventions, as they are highly informed in health policy, able to navigate rules and regulations, and bring far-reaching experience and relationships among various government and private sector services, programs, and people.
More information about how businesses and public health agencies can partner together can be found in CDC’s 6|18 Resources and Tools, including a webinar entitled “Developing Public-Private Partnerships to Improve Employee and Population Health” and a template presentation on employer and public health opportunities to improve employee health.
Additionally, a description of the value proposition of partnerships between businesses and public health agencies to improve community health can be found here.
Making the case for coverage for the National DPP lifestyle change program can be a challenging task, so it is important to understand what motivates employers and commercial plans to cover the National DPP lifestyle change program or other wellness programs.
Consider the Timing
Employers and other commercial payers may be more receptive to considering coverage of the National DPP lifestyle change program at certain times of the year. For example, the graphic below shows the typical benefit decision-making timeline for employers that operate on a calendar year. While employers may make decisions outside of this timeline, they are more likely to be amenable to learning about the National DPP lifestyle change program during the 1st quarter (January-March) or the 2nd quarter (April-June) of the year. Employers that operate on a fiscal year rather than a calendar year, such as many public sector employers, typically have open enrollment during the 2nd quarter (April-June), and therefore may be more receptive to new benefit information during the 3rd quarter (July-September) and the 4th quarter (October-December) of the year.
Address Questions about the National DPP Lifestyle Change Program
When discussing the program with decision-makers and potential advocates, it may be necessary to address questions about the National DPP lifestyle change program such as, “Why can’t this be a ‘one size fits all’ program for all my members and/or employees,” and “A year is a long time; can we shorten the program?” The Barriers to Coverage FAQ document above seeks to address frequently asked questions about coverage of the National DPP lifestyle change program and provide answers and links to information on the National DPP Coverage Toolkit. Case studies and short videos can also be a helpful way to convey the potential impact of the National DPP lifestyle change program to decision-makers and generate interest in the program. For example, this video shares the experience of Costco employees who participated in the National DPP lifestyle change program online. Additional case studies of employers who have offered the National DPP lifestyle change program can be found on the Coverage in Practice page of the Coverage Toolkit, in the “Examples of Employers Covering the National DPP Lifestyle Change Program” section.
Employers considering offering the National DPP lifestyle change program as a covered benefit should also be sure to connect with their current health plan or self-funded health plan administrator to explore any involvement with the National DPP lifestyle change program. The Key Questions for Employers to Ask their Health Plan document can help employers start that conversation.
Additionally, health insurance brokers and benefit consultants are uniquely positioned to promote the National DPP lifestyle change program among their employer client base. Diabetes Prevention: A Practical Guide for Brokers and Benefits Consultants explains why a broker or benefit consultant would want to promote the National DPP lifestyle change program and how to promote the program. As an employer, commercial health plan, or state health department, this document can be shared with any broker or benefits consultant with which you engage to promote diabetes prevention. When possible, it can be beneficial to meet with a broker or benefits consultant and an employer at the same time to explain the advantages of the National DPP lifestyle change program. For more information on how to talk to clients about the National DPP lifestyle change program, visit the CDC’s page for Insurance Brokers and Consultants. There you can find resources such as introductory email and script language, informational flyers for employers, and a customizable savings infographic.
- Used to promote health and fitness
- Often offered through a workplace, not the participant’s health insurance, at low or no cost to the participant
- Often tied to a reward for the employee, such as health insurance premium discounts, cash rewards, or other incentives
- Programs or options may be added or removed at any time
- Examples of wellness programs include:
- Smoking cessation
- Weight loss
- Preventative health screenings
Covered Health Insurance Benefits:
- Health care items or services covered under a health insurance plan
- Costs to the participant are associated with the health insurance (e.g., premiums, deductibles, co-payments, etc.)
- Used to treat sickness or injury generally, but may also have programs to improve health in the absence of acute sickness or injury
- E.g., can have benefits for preventive care and/or population health
- Benefit options are generally stable (won’t change more frequently than yearly)
Gather Data and Create a Budget Projection
The purpose of creating a case for coverage is to convince a decision maker that it is advantageous to cover the National DPP lifestyle change program. A key piece of that argument is demonstrating that the program can improve employee or member health and reduce health care costs. Commercial plans and employers with a self-insured health plan are responsible for managing the financial risk of providing benefits to plan members. This means that these organizations are highly motivated to implement changes that will contain health care costs and will likely respond favorably to data demonstrating how the National DPP lifestyle change program can contribute to cost savings.
The following resources contain data in support of covering the National DPP lifestyle change program:
Cost & Value
The Cost & Value page of this toolkit compiles several resources describing the effectiveness and cost implications of the National DPP lifestyle change program. The Evidence page of the toolkit also contains additional resources.
Case studies can also be effective tools to communicate the impact the National DPP lifestyle change program could have on an organization, especially when challenges and lessons learned are included. A compilation of case studies of employers and commercial plans offering the National DPP lifestyle change program can be found on the Coverage in Practice page of the Coverage Toolkit.
The American Medical Association (AMA) created an Eight Step Implementation Guide for employers that contains helpful information on the potential costs and benefits of covering the National DPP lifestyle change program, as well as the subsequent implementation steps. For more information, or to request the full employer toolkit, please contact the AMA directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Commercial plans and employers are likely to be most responsive to data that is reflective of their member or employee population. For example, data that matches the demographics (age, gender, socioeconomic status, etc.), industry, or geographic location of the member or employee population is more persuasive. Where such data is unavailable, national statistics can still contribute to the case for coverage.
Budget and Impact Tools
The tools listed below are available to help assess potential costs and savings related to the National DPP lifestyle change program. Additional information describing the value of the National DPP lifestyle change program can be found on the Cost and Value page.
Budget Projection Template
The Budget Projection Template (click the icon to download) can be used to estimate the total cost of providing the National DPP lifestyle change program to eligible members or employees, as well as the average cost per participant. The Commercial Budget Projection Template Instructions (click the icon to open) is meant to be used alongside the Budget Projection Template to help the user identify the decisions and data needed. It also explains how to interpret the results of the Budget Projection Template.
The CDC Diabetes Prevention Impact Toolkit is a user-friendly, interactive website that allows commercial plans and employers to assess the likely cost-effectiveness or cost-savings of covering the National DPP lifestyle change program. The default values in the Impact Toolkit are based on the best available data from relevant research, program implementations, state and industry averages, and expert judgment. Users of the Impact Toolkit can adjust those values based on the population served, expected adherence levels, program cost, and more.
Other Financial Benefits to Covering the National DPP Lifestyle Change Program
There are also other financial benefits to covering the National DPP lifestyle change program beyond the direct effect on health care costs that would be of interest to a commercial plan or employer. The graphic below helps illustrate some of these benefits.
Stage 3: Planning the Benefit
There are many decisions to be made about how to implement the National DPP lifestyle change program. These decisions are outlined for employers in the Pathway to Coverage document. This document expands on the steps listed in the Readiness Assessment from Stage 1 and provides additional ideas for employers on each phase to help the user create the appropriate coverage model for their organization.
Who Will Deliver the Program?
The National DPP lifestyle change program must be delivered through a CDC-recognized organization. CDC-recognized organizations are those that have demonstrated the ability to effectively deliver the evidence-based lifestyle change program with quality and fidelity as described in CDC’s Diabetes Prevention Recognition Program (DPRP) Standards.
Contracting with CDC-Recognized Organizations
Commercial plans and employers have the option to contract with CDC-recognized organizations to deliver the National DPP lifestyle change program. If this option is chosen, contracts between commercial plans and CDC-recognized organizations should outline expectations between the parties and include the National DPP lifestyle change program requirements. For more information on common elements included in a contract with a CDC-recognized organization, see the Contracting with CDC-Recognized Organizations page and the Prospective Contract Components Between a Commercial Payer and a CDC-Recognized Organization document.
Commercial plans and employers can see CDC-recognized organizations listed by state here.
Alternatives to Contracting with CDC-Recognized Organizations
Instead of contracting with a CDC-recognized organization, commercial plans and employers can choose to seek CDC recognition and provide the program themselves. Alternatively, they can also contract with a third-party organization to create a network of CDC-recognized organizations that provide the National DPP lifestyle change program. For example, umbrella hub arrangements connect community-based organizations with health care payment systems to pursue sustainable reimbursement for the National DPP lifestyle change program. There are specific requirements that need to be met if an organization elects to take this approach, and resources about this process can be found on the CDC and DPRP websites, as well as through the National Diabetes Prevention Program Customer Service Center.
How Will the Program Be Delivered?
There are many considerations for how to deliver the National DPP lifestyle change program, which can be found on the Delivery page of the Coverage Toolkit.
Which Billing Model Will Be Used?
There are two billing models that payers can use when covering the National DPP lifestyle change program:
- Invoicing: Commercial plans and employers can contract with CDC-recognized organizations and establish an invoicing method for billing. In this scenario, the CDC-recognized organizations invoice the payer based on the terms defined in the contract.
- Medical Claims: CDC-recognized organizations can submit claims either directly to the payer or to the applicable third-party organization that handles billing and/or network management. To cover the National DPP lifestyle change program in a claims-based system, commercial plans will need to update their systems to accept claims with a specified combination of CPT codes with modifiers and ICD-10 diagnosis codes.
Whether a claims process is used, or an invoice is sent, CDC-recognized organizations would be required to comply with all HIPAA regulations to ensure participant privacy.
For more information on selecting a billing model, see the Coding and Billing page.
How the benefit is rolled out can have a substantial effect on the overall success of the program. One option is to take a “phased approach” to implementation. For example, a large employer may choose to offer a program only to a portion of its employees at the beginning. This will allow the employer to evaluate the effectiveness of the program and to work through any challenges before a large-scale implementation. Smaller organizations may find that they do not have enough eligible participants in the program to make a phased implementation tenable.
Outreaching to Employees or Members
One of the final steps to planning the benefit is deciding a start date for the program and making an engagement and outreach plan for employees or members. Additional information can be found on the Screening and Identification, Recruitment and Referral, and Retention pages of the Coverage Toolkit.
Employers and commercial health plans must comply with all health information privacy laws when implementing the National DPP lifestyle change program and outreaching to employees or members.
CDC has created the following customizable templates to make it quick and easy for employers or members to outreach to employees about the National DPP lifestyle change program.
- Email Template – This email template is for employers or insurers to email employees or members to encourage them to get tested for prediabetes and enroll in a program if eligible. It could be used for initial outreach or tailored for use during National Diabetes Month and Diabetes Alert Day.
- Promotional Images – These images can be added to emails, slide presentations, intranet or social media posts, or other communications about the National DPP lifestyle change program. They also can be printed as postcards and mailed to employees or members.
- Fact Sheet Template – This fact sheet is a one-page document for employees or members on prediabetes, the National DPP lifestyle change program, and enrollment.
- Workplace Poster Template (24” x 36”) – This poster encourages employees to seek more information on available lifestyle change programs and to find out if they are eligible. It is meant to be posted in a common area.
Publicly Announcing Coverage
State and local public health agencies may distribute new and compelling case studies of successful programs that improve community health. Consider sharing the organization’s involvement with the National DPP lifestyle program through public health channels for increased enrollment, increased program recognition, and/or an enhanced corporate image. Feel free to let us know of your work or contact us if you need additional help or information.
Stage 4: Assessing Success and Scalability
Planning to evaluate the impact of the National DPP lifestyle change program is an important part of the coverage discussion. There are several reasons why an employer or commercial payer would benefit from evaluating the program:
- Obtaining feedback to improve the delivery of the National DPP lifestyle change program
- Gathering data that demonstrates the value and effectiveness of the program
- Measuring changes over time against a baseline
- Securing continued funding for the program
- Establishing accountability for the use of resources
- Comparing the efficacy of the National DPP lifestyle change program to different interventions
More information regarding each of these advantages can be found here, along with solutions to common reasons individuals may feel reluctant to make an evaluation plan.
Developing a comprehensive evaluation plan will support efforts to improve the National DPP lifestyle change program and can be done in any context, such as during a pilot, when the program is a fully covered Medicaid benefit, or within a commercial context. The data collected during an evaluation can be used for many purposes, including to guide benefit design, measure changes over time against a baseline, and establish accountability for the use of resources.
To learn more about evaluation methods and examples of states that have evaluated the National DPP lifestyle change program, please see the evaluation section of the Data, Reporting, and Evaluation page.
What to Measure
When developing an evaluation plan, it is important to identify the questions of interest, how needed information will be collected, and how the results will be shared and utilized. Answering these questions will help the evaluation team define roles and responsibilities as they relate to the evaluation and ultimately set the evaluation up for success.
CDC has some required measurements for the program including attendance and weight loss. Payers may consider tracking additional items to look at a larger impact and additional value components of coverage of the National DPP lifestyle change program, such as:
- Biometrics – A1Cs, lowering/decreasing medications, other biometric measurements (blood pressure, lipids, etc.)
- Satisfaction – Were employees positive about the programming and did they believe they benefited?
- Efficiency – Did the program operate within the specified budget and timelines?
- Knowledge – What did participants learn about diabetes prevention?
- Outcomes – Have participants changed their behavior and are health indicators improving? How has this affected productivity, absenteeism, and/or customer satisfaction?
- Claims — How have medical claims been affected (lower hospital admittance/ incidences)?
When planning an evaluation for the National DPP lifestyle change program, it is important to consider what indicators can reasonably be measured in a given timeframe. It can take time to demonstrate the impact of the National DPP lifestyle change program. For example, demonstrating return on investment (ROI) often takes at least three years. It can take up to six months alone for Medicaid claims to become available for evaluation purposes. As a result, it is important for stakeholders to understand the timeline of the evaluation from the beginning. For more information about the ROI for the National DPP lifestyle change program, please see the Cost and Value page of the Coverage Toolkit.
The Program Measurement & Evaluation Guide: Core Metrics for Employee Health Management from the Health Enhancement Research Organization and Population Health Alliance describes metrics that can be applied to any program intended to improve the health of a population, including the National DPP lifestyle change program. It includes metrics for financial outcomes, health impact, participation, satisfaction, organizational support, productivity and performance, and value on investment, and suggestions for how to select specific metrics within each category.
How to Gather the Data
Commercial plans likely already have robust evaluation strategies. However, many employers may be less experienced with building an evaluation plan. There are many approaches that can be used to gather the necessary data. The evaluation approach does not have to be high cost or labor intensive. Some sources of information could include:
- Surveys such as participant satisfactions surveys, self-reported behavior surveys, and productivity questionnaires
- Focus groups or interviews
- Medical and pharmaceutical claims
- Time tracking mechanisms
- National DPP lifestyle change program registration documents
- Health Risk Assessment (HRA) results
- Biometric testing
When determining appropriate data collection methods, it is important to consider the complexity associated with each method and the resources and staffing available to carry out the evaluation. Organizations may already be collecting data that could be used to evaluate the National DPP lifestyle change program, and they may also choose to start collecting new metrics as part of the implementation of the program. For employers, there will likely be employee confidentiality considerations when gathering data. Employers should collect individual-level data anonymously and report it in the aggregate, and may choose to do so through a third-party organization.
The Midwest Business Group on Health has a Diabetes Management in the Workplace Toolkit that includes additional suggestions for evaluation and measurement of the National DPP lifestyle change program.
Additional information on data sources and collection methods for evaluation of the National DPP lifestyle change program can be found on the Data, Reporting, and Evaluation page of the Coverage Toolkit.
Scaling or Expanding the Program
Collecting and evaluating information about the National DPP lifestyle change program puts commercial plans and employers in the position to scale up or expand the program in an effective and data-driven manner. Understanding rates of uptake among members or employees, success rates, and other outcomes can be beneficial in helping make decisions on program scalability.
Scaling up the program may have additional benefits. For example, there are often efficiency gains when programs are scaled to larger groups, allowing the expanded group to be covered by the program with little to no additional overhead or administrative costs. However, scaling up may have hidden costs as well, which is why the decision should be data-driven.
Data collection needs for scaling the program will likely revolve around the business decisions that need to be made. Business-related data elements may include:
- Cost per program participant
- Program enrollment and retention rates
- Benefits directly resulting from the program, such as:
- Reduced health care costs
- Reduced employee absenteeism
- Improved productivity
- Improved member/employee satisfaction
- Improved customer satisfaction
- Future costs, based on expansion
- Return on investment models, based on expansion
- New logistical needs, based on expansion, such as:
- Larger meeting places or more frequent use of meeting places to allow for multiple classes
- Potential need for additional staff
- Expanded delivery options, such as including an online option if not previously offered
These data aren’t all inclusive but may help drive thinking around what should be considered when scaling the program. For more information on general business decisions associated with the National DPP lifestyle change program, please see the Cost and Value page of the Coverage Toolkit.
Stage 5: Post-Program Launch
After implementation of the National DPP lifestyle change program has begun, there are a number of ways a commercial plan or employer can ensure the program has enough traction to support ongoing coverage of the program.
Continue to Engage the Network
Potential National DPP lifestyle change program participants may come from a variety of referral sources. While the initial launch may be limited to select members or employees, many payers have found that without continually working to engage the network, referrals lag and the success of the program can be limited. Continuous engagement with the referring provider network, the CDC-recognized organization(s), and other key partners can help to strengthen the program and make the case for continued coverage of the National DPP lifestyle change program.
Commercial plans and employers may consider outreaching to local providers’ offices to encourage referrals of eligible members to the National DPP lifestyle change program. Many entities have found that individuals are more likely to enroll in the program when referred by their health care provider. The CDC-recognized organization can also take the lead on outreaching to health care providers. Additional information about provider referrals can be found on the Recruitment and Referrals page of the Coverage Toolkit.
Using Health Care or Claims Data for Referrals
Commercial plans and employers can bolster referrals by working with the health plan administrator and/or network providers to generate eligibility reports (in a HIPAA compliant manner). The contact information of individuals who are potentially eligible for the program can be transmitted to the CDC-recognized organization or the health care provider for outreach. Also, as more health care providers are engaged for referrals, the query fields could be shared with them to expedite the initial screening for eligible participants among their patient population.
Continue to Engage Eligible Individuals and Participants
Making individuals aware of their eligibility for the National DPP lifestyle change program is a helpful step toward enrollment, but simple awareness is often not enough to translate into referrals into program participants. Also, participants may engage in the program initially, but lose interest over time. Supplementary engagement and encouragement provided at key times may help motivate individuals start and continue the program.
Just like with the initial outreach, targeted efforts can help support continued participation or additional enrollment into the program. As an employer, wellness events can be organized, internal emails can be sent, or announcements made at company-wide meetings. Incentives may also be offered for participating in a screening for the National DPP lifestyle change program, enrolling in the program, reaching program milestones, or completing the program. Commercial plans can send mailers to members or make phone calls to individuals who have not yet accepted the offer to participate. Health care providers can also be leveraged to provide encouragement to program participants who have stopped attending.
Additional information on how commercial plans and employers can increase the retention of program participants can be found on the Retention page of the Coverage Toolkit.
These efforts to continue to engage and expand the referral network, as well as engaging the participants themselves, can be refined through analyzing the data that is generated by program participation, as outlined in Stage 4.
Resources to Help Make the Case for Coverage
Coverage Toolkit Resources
- CDC’s Diabetes Prevention Impact Toolkit
- List of CDC Recognized Organizations
- Resources related to delivery of the program:
- AMA Eight Step Implementation Guide (For more information, or to request the full employer toolkit, please contact the AMA directly at email@example.com).
- Employer Case Studies
- A Case Study of Five Employers
- A Case Study of Three Employers (For more information, or to request the full employer toolkit, please contact the AMA directly at firstname.lastname@example.org)
- A Case Study of Six Organizations
- 1. Boyle JP, Thompson JT, Gregg EW, et al. Projections of the Year 2050 Burden of Diabetes in the US Adult Population: Dynamic Modeling of Incidence, Mortality, and Prediabetes Prevalence. Popul Health Metr 2010;8:1-29
- 2. Dieleman JL, Baral R, Birger MI, et al. U.S. spending on personal health care and public health, 1996-2013. JAMA. 2016;316:2627-2646.
- 3. American Diabetes Association. Economic costs of diabetes in the U.S. in 2017. Diabetes Care. 2018;41:917-928.
- 4. Bardenheier BH, Lin J, Zhuo X, et al. Disability-free life-years lost among adults aged > 50 years, with and without diabetes. Diabetes Care. 2016;39:1222-1229.