Provincial coverage changes for diabetes technologies in Canada

Provincial coverage changes for diabetes technologies

For Canadians living with diabetes, there were two big provincial coverage changes for diabetes technologies last week.  The Ontario government agreed to cover the Libre system while the government of British Columbia declined to cover the t:SlimX2 insulin pump or supplies for its residents. This is one step forward and one step back when it comes to choice in the treatment of insulin-dependent diabetes in Canada.

Ontario Drug Program covers the Libre Flash Glucose Monitor

Effective September 16, 2019, the Ontario government has stated that they will cover the complete cost of the Freestyle Libre Flash Glucose Monitoring Systems for those who are eligible for the Ontario Drug Benefit program.  This is fabulous news for those living with insulin-dependent diabetes.  Those opting to use this system will be eligible to have 33 sensors covered per year.

While people in Ontario are celebrating the expansion of their provincial health program, others are waiting for their provinces to follow suit. 

Get the provincial overview of diabetes devices and supplies coverage here.

The BC Government declines coverage of the t:slimX2™ insulin pump

BC denies coverage of tslim insulin X2 pump

People living with diabetes in BC, however, were disheartened last week to see that once again their choice in insulin pump therapy had been restricted by their government.  The Minister of Health stated that the government would not be adding the t:slimX2™ to their provincial insulin pump coverage

If you are considering purchasing an insulin pump, our ebook can help you to know the right questions to ask your local pump reps.

Your Diabetes May Vary

As we have stated time and time again, diabetes is not a one size fits all disease. What works well for one person with diabetes may not work for another. What works at one stage in your life may not work for you at a different stage.  It is vital that people living with diabetes have a choice in how they manage their diabetes care. 

In Canada, currently, we have the choice of four insulin pumps, one flash monitoring system, and two continuous glucose monitors. In theory, this is fabulous but using these devices are costly.  If you do not have great private insurance (and not all private insurance is great for people living with diabetes), you most likely will not have access to your choice of technologies. 

If your job does not offer private insurance coverage or the company you work for has not negotiated for extensive coverage of diabetes supplies, you are most likely looking to the provincial government to provide aid.  Depending on where you live in Canada, you may or may not have extensive provincial coverage for diabetes technologies.

There should be an increase in public coverage for diabetes supplies and devices

Once again, we feel that a reduction in provincial coverage for diabetes technologies is wrong.  All Canadians living with insulin dependent diabetes should have access to the best possible diabetes care regardless of wallet size or geographic location. 

Providing Canadians with diabetes with the best possible care benefits everyone. It helps the person with diabetes to stay healthy.  This means that they are in the hospital less often.  If they are in the hospital or at the doctor less often, then they are not costing the health care system as much money.  These individuals are also taxpayers.  If they are not ill, they are able to work which provides the public coffers with more money as well.  It is a win-win situation that we continue to hope that more provinces will start to realize.

If you are currently looking to use an insulin pump or other technology but are concerned about how you will pay for it, the pump companies and CGM manufacturers have staff dedicated to helping you look at your options.  Be sure to contact them before you give up on being able to use the technology of your choice.

Ontario covers Libre
diabetes supplies coverage depends on where you live in Canada

How to manage airport security with an insulin pump and CGM

insulin pumps

In May of 2012, after reading about a friend having problems getting their insulin pump through security at a US airport, I did some research on the subject

Should you put your pump through the x-ray machine? Can you wear your CGM through a full-body scanner? There were a lot of questions in 2012 and there still are in 2018 so I reached out to a few friends in the industry to see if things have changed at all.  Here is what you need to know when you are traveling with an insulin pump or CGM

Get our free travel checklist before your next vacation.

Air travel with a Dexcom® G5 or G6

The Dexcom® G5 and G6 is cleared to take through metal detectors, be hand-wanded and be worn during flights. Make sure to let the Security Officer know the sensor can’t be removed because it’s inserted under the skin.

There are a few situations to be concerned about.

NEVER put your receiver or extra sensors for the Dexcom® G5 or G6 through an x-ray machine.  Ask the security personnel to do a hand-check of the items to avoid permanent damage of these devices.

According to Dexcom®, the effects of full body scanners on CGM components have not been studied. It is therefore recommended that you do not take your Dexcom® through one.

Once you are through security and on your plane waiting for takeoff, make sure to set your app to airplane mode, keeping the bluetooth on and leave your receiver turned on.

Flying with a FreeStyle Libre

The Dream Big Travel Far blog contacted the people at FreeStyle and asked what the guidelines were for air travel with the Libre.  This is what they reported.

“We recommend the user notify security personnel when going through airport security screening. the user can go through X-ray machines while wearing a sensor. We recommend the reader be powered off during a flight and not used for scanning a sensor. However, the strip port on the reader can be used to take blood glucose or ketone readings during flight. Turning on the reader with the Home Button will activate the radio. The user must turn on the reader by inserting a test strip so as to not activate the radio.”

Air travel wearing an Omnipod

Good news for Omnipod users! You can wear the pod through the metal detector, x-ray machines and full body scanners with no worry.  The PDM can also go through the X-ray. Insulet does recommend that if you are selected for a “pat down” you disclose that you are wearing the pod.

Flying with a Medtronic® insulin pump

Medtronic® insulin pumps can be worn through metal detectors and be wanded.  They should NOT be sent through x-ray machines however.

Medtronic® also notes that your sensor and transmitter must be removed if you are going through a full-body scanner. If you do not want to remove your sensor, you can ask to be pat down instead.

Flying with a Tandem® t:slim X2™ insulin pump

Tandem® t:slim X2™ can be worn through metal detectors and can be wanded.  They should not be sent through x-ray machines.

Changes in air pressure cause bubbles to form in insulin, and the related expansion can cause unintentional insulin delivery.  This is NOT a problem in the Tandem pump.

The pumping mechanism used in Tandem pumps isolates the insulin reservoir (bag) from the user line, so if bubbles are formed in the cartridge due to pressure changes, the internal bag will expand, but no insulin will be delivered to the user from the reservoir.  The only volume in line with the user at any given time is the insulin in their infusion set and cartridge tubing, and the contents of the 0.3 unit Micro-Delivery chamber.

There is no need to turn off your t:slim X2™ during takeoff or landing.  This system runs on Bluetooth which can operate during flights. If you are also using a Dexcom CGM that you are viewing with your smartphone, turn the phone on airplane mode and then turn on Bluetooth.

Flying if you wear an Animas® insulin pump

A detailed list of where you can and cannot wear your Animas® pump can be found in my May 2012 post.

Animas® insulin pumps can be worn through metal detectors and can be wanded.  They should NOT be sent through x-ray machines.

Animas® pumps should not be worn through full-body scanners.

Click here for more tips on traveling with diabetes!