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Tools for Healthier Life

Angel Pacana’s type 2 diabetes diagnosis in 2010 came as something of a surprise. A family history of the disease, combined with the onset of some troubling symptoms, prompted a doctor’s visit that revealed elevated blood sugar levels. For 10 years, Pacana struggled to manage the condition and its effects.

In 2020, she started using Virta, one of the diabetes management tools offered to Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska (BCBSNE) members for free, as part of her treatment plan. Virta is a proven, innovative program that combines a keto diet, one-on-one health coaching, and continual collaboration between health care providers. Patients can lower their blood sugar and A1c, all while losing weight and reducing the need for diabetes medications.

When Pacana was first diagnosed, she was referred to an endocrinologist who ran the blood work and a primary care doctor who got her on a treatment plan. The Virta platform helped facilitate communication between Pacana’s primary care physician, endocrinologist, and Virta coaches to make sure her treatment was headed in the right direction.

“I’m not a person that needs to be coached all the time, but that’s what I love about the program,” Pacana said. “They’re flexible to what works best for you. Virta makes it easy to find a coach who fits your personality and needs. The coach I have now is totally flexible to me.”

Since beginning Virta, Pacana has lost 24 pounds and reduced her fasting glucose from 257 to a much healthier 138. She went from six prescription medications to four, saving her money and hassle every day. “There are a lot of little things we all know we need to do to be healthier, and the hard part is getting started,” she shared. “But this program makes it simple to follow through with accountability, support, and the personal connection.”

Personal connection is an important theme for Pacana, but type 2 diabetes threatened the relationships she cherishes. As an immigrant from the Philippines, Pacana’s relationship with her family is dear to her and a lot of that connection is seen at the dinner table. Virta helped her to navigate the impact diabetes had on the foods she once enjoyed with her family. 

“It can be hard…I’m Filipino, and I don’t eat rice much anymore. Rice is life,” Pacana said. “But through this program, I’ve learned about methods to modify and maintain my diet in a way that works for me long-term.” She credits BCBSNE for providing her with access to Virta and helping her along her health journey. “Blue Cross and Blue Shield is really the connection point for me,” Pacana said. “They play such a big part in my story.”

Virta is an independent company that provides diabetes management services to Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska, an independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association.

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