You are using a browser we no longer support. Current functionality may be reduced and some features may not work properly. For a more optimal experience, please click here for a list of supported browsers.

A1C basics for diabetes management

GEHA | March 7, 2024

An A1C test is a common blood test used to measure a person’s average blood sugar levels over the past two to three months.

An A1C test is a common blood test used to measure a person’s average blood sugar levels over the past two to three months. A1C tests are usually done twice per year. Health care professionals use the test to screen for and diagnose Type 2 diabetes and prediabetes in their patients. A1C testing can also be used to monitor how well a person’s diabetes management plan is working.

How does an A1C test work?

If you’re planning on having an A1C test done, it can be completed in one of two ways, according to Cleveland Clinic:

  1. Most commonly, a blood sample is taken from your vein and sent to a lab to be analyzed
  2. A blood sample is taken via finger prick with results provided in minutes. However, this method is only used to help manage diabetes, not diagnose it.

The A1C test is in addition to — not instead of — regular blood sugar self-testing if you have diabetes. Blood sugar goes up and down throughout the day and night, which isn’t captured by your A1C.

Understanding A1C test results

Your A1C test will display the result as a percentage. A higher percentage indicates high blood sugar levels. According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), A1C target levels can depend on an individual’s age, general health and other factors. However, the goal for most adults with diabetes is an A1C less than 7%.

The following are general guidelines for understanding A1C test results, as outlined by the ADA:

  • Less than 5.7% indicates normal blood sugar levels
  • About 5.7%–6.5% can potentially indicate prediabetes
  • 6.5% or higher indicates diabetes

If you have a diabetes diagnosis, a combination of diet, exercise and medication can help bring your levels down. It’s important that you work closely with your doctor to manage your blood sugar level long-term.

How can GEHA help?

If you haven’t established a primary care physician, you can search for an in-network physician near you by using GEHA’s Find Care tool.

Additional resources for managing diabetes are also available on our diabetes resources page. Or, check out our blog and read up on topics like lifestyle factors that impact diabetes and managing diabetes through food.

Have you attended a webinar?

Every month, GEHA hosts a free webinar designed to offer ways to live a healthier life. Check out our upcoming offerings on aging gracefully, mindfulness and financial well-being. You can view past webinars, too.

View 2024 webinars

“AIC.”, Cleveland Clinic, 22 November, 2022.
“AIC Looks Back.” American Diabetes Association.

The information contained herein is for informational and educational purposes only. This information is not a substitute for professional medical advice and if you have questions regarding a medical condition, regimen, or treatment you should always seek the advice of a qualified health care provider. Never disregard or delay seeking medical advice from a qualified medical professional because of information you have read herein.