What You Need to Know About Hemoglobin A1C Tests

Posted on Jul 13th 2018 by Florida Blue

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The hemoglobin A1C blood test (HbA1c) measures your average blood sugar levels over the past two to three months. The test can be used to diagnose diabetes or tell you if you are at a higher risk for developing diabetes. It’s also an important part of managing your diabetes. It helps your doctor see how well your diabetes is under control.

Why You Need This Test

One in four people over the age of 65 will be diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. Having an A1C test can help stop or slow the development of diabetes. If you don’t learn to manage your diabetes, you could be harming many important parts of your body including your heart, eyes, kidneys, nerves and blood vessels. The good news is that having an A1C tests allows you to monitor your blood sugar and work with doctors to make a plan and get it under control.

How Much Does It Cost?

An A1C test is no cost to you as part of your Florida Blue Medicare health plan. If the doctor does find that your A1C test is not normal you may have a copay or additional costs for specialists or treatment.

What Should You Expect? 

A1C tests require no preparation. You may eat and drink as normal. During the A1C test, a doctor or member of the health care team will take a sample of your blood by inserting a needle into a vein on your arm or taking a finger prick. You may feel some discomfort but the test only takes a few moments. You can return to your daily activities without worry unless told otherwise by a doctor. The blood sample is sent to a lab to be reviewed and results will usually be ready within a week.

The A1C test result is reported as a percentage. The higher the percentage, the higher your blood glucose (blood sugar) levels have been. A normal A1C level is below 5.7 percent. If you have an A1C level of 6.5 percent or higher on two different occasions you have diabetes. If your A1C level is between 5.7 and 6.4 percent then you are at a high risk for developing diabetes.

How Do You Make an Appointment?

If you haven’t had your Annual Wellness Visit yet this year, this is a great time to ask your doctor about any screenings you need, including the A1C test. Your primary care doctor can tell you where to go to get your blood test.

We are here to help, too. Here’s what we can do for you:

  • We can help you find a primary care doctor if you don’t have one. If you are a BlueMedicare HMO member, you must have a primary care doctor to coordinate your care. You don’t have to have one if you are in PPO plan. But having a primary care doctor can help you coordinate your care and look at the total picture of your health. It’s especially important if you see multiple specialists. Your primary care doctor will be the one person who has an eye on everything to do with your health.
  • We can also help you schedule any appointments you need during a 3-way call.
  • If you have trouble leaving the house, we can send care to you. Florida Blue works with vendors who provide in-home assessments at no cost to you.

Why We're Asking You to  Get This Test

Seeing your doctor and getting preventive care is important to you. It’s important to us, too. CMS (Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services) is the government organization that oversees Medicare Advantage plans like Florida Blue. Similar to how you use stars to rate a restaurant or hotel, CMS uses a five-star quality rating system to measure the experience people with Medicare have with their health plans and health care system.

One of CMS’ most important goals is to improve the health of people with Medicare and the quality of care they receive. CMS uses a measurement system to evaluate the quality of health care you receive. One of the measures CMS looks at is the hemoglobin A1C blood test. If our members who need this test get it, Florida Blue scores better. This helps us improve our Star score. If our Star score is four or above, it means we’re helping our members manage their health. It also helps us improve our benefits for our members.

Healthy Blue Rewards

Depending on your plan, you may be able to earn between $10 and $50 in HealthyBlue Rewards for completing this screening. To learn more about HealthyBlue Rewards, please visit floridablue.com/healthybluerewards

You can earn one reward by getting a hemoglobin A1C blood test each year. Your doctor will help you know when you should be screened. Your doctor will also help you decide how frequently you should be tested. Complete an A1C test anytime between January 1, 2018, and December 31, 2018, to earn a reward.

Note: Plans eligible for HealthyBlue Rewards include BlueMedicare Choice (RPPO), BlueMedicare Select (PPO), BlueMedicare Complete (HMO SNP), BlueMedicare Classic (HMO), BlueMedicare Classic Plus (HMO) and BlueMedicare Premier (HMO).

BlueMedicare Preferred (HMO), BlueMedicare group retiree plan, BlueMedicare Supplement and BlueMedicare Rx (PDP) members are not eligible for HealthyBlue Rewards.

Caregiver Corner

If you have a caregiver who helps you with your health, make sure to share this information with them.

If you are a caregiver for one of our Medicare members, give us a call. Let us help you help the person you care for.

We’re always focused on you. We hope these tools help empower you as you continue to provide care to a loved one.

Need help? Call us.

Please call Member Services at 1-800-926-6565. TTY users, please call 1-800-955-8770.

We are open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. local time, seven days a week from October 1 to February 14, except for Thanksgiving and Christmas. From February 15 to September 30, we are open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. local time.

Sources:

https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/diabetes/overview/tests-diagnosis/a1c-test#whatis

https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/pdfs/data/statistics/national-diabetes-statistics-report.pdf

http://www.diabetes.org/living-with-diabetes/complications/


Filed under: Medicare News  


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