Last week, during blog week, I told you about things that get my dander up and make me want to scream from the roof tops until they are fixed. One of those things was access to insulin pumps and supplies. Since the day that I realized that there were more options available to my son than the insulin regimen we were currently on, I was adamant that all people with diabetes should have choice in their treatment options.
People living with diabetes should be able to decide if they want to use Lantus over NPH. They should be able to choose Apirdra over regular insulin. They should be able to see if a Continuous Glucose Monitor or an insulin pump is for them without having to sell their home. That sounds extreme doesn’t it? Sadly it isn’t. Despite living in Canada with its socialized medicine, Canadians are still not always able to access the best treatment options for them. They may not have private health insurance or their insurance may not cover the devices that they desire to use. The result is that they go without or go to extreme measures to get the medical tools that they desire to keep them healthy. For me, that is not acceptable.
My son began using an insulin pump 11 years ago. I had wanted a pump for him since the first time I heard of the flexibility that it allowed but financially it was not an option. His father had medical insurance but insulin pumps were not covered. What changed 11 years ago? My family stepped in and said that they would come together to pay for the pump. They wanted the very best for my son. It is a moment that I will never forget.
Over time things have changed thankfully. Provinces have begun to cover insulin pumps–for children. Those over 18 have had to find good insurance, high paying jobs, go back to injections out of necessity rather than choice or move to Ontario (the first province to cover all people with Type 1 diabetes who wished to use insulin pump therapy). In my own province of Newfoundland and Labrador, changes have been made as well, the age limit for assistance was moved to 25.
Today my son is 16. He is heading into his final year of high school and looking at career options. The most important part of his career choice is to find one that is either very high paying or offers great benefits. What he enjoys seems to be second on our list. That is discouraging and gets my dander up.
If a person wishes to use an insulin pump to best control their diabetes care, then they should have that option. Age, financial status, or occupation should not dictate what type of therapy they can receive. With this in mind, advocates in provinces like British Columbia have created petitions to ask their government to expand coverage and remove age restrictions. Pensioners are having to go back to injections because their private health care coverage ends at retirement. Young adults who are beginning careers and new families are having to rethink how they will move forward because of cost constraints brought on by managing their diabetes care.
This is not right. Age should not dictate whether you get an insulin pump or not. Insulin pumps provide just as many benefits to adults as it does to children. Adults with type 1 diabetes who are using insulin pumps often find shift work much more manageable. They tend to see less diabetes related down time because they can micro manage their disease with greater ease. The addition of Continuous Glucose Monitoring systems to their care can help them to anticipate dangerous highs or lows that could have otherwise sent them home for the day. Increased productivity and work time for people with diabetes has a larger impact on society as well. People living with diabetes who are able to work are able to contribute to the provincial tax coffers through their employable earnings. They are less likely to have complications or dangerous blood glucose swings that could send them to the hospital. Our young people with diabetes are able to look at jobs in the province rather than having to move to areas with better pay and better benefits.
The rewards definitely outweigh the costs to the provincial governments and our health care systems. With this in mind, I have created a petition that will ultimately be presented to the government of Newfoundland and Labrador asking that they expand their insulin pump program.
Please consider signing and sharing this petition. The more voices we have, the stronger we are. This is a very serious and real issue. The stories and needs behind the petition are heart breaking. I have spoken to a government employee who have had to rent out her homes so that she can have extra money to be able to afford her diabetes supplies. I have listened to medical personnel who have had to rely on financial help from a life partner in order to continue pumping. I have sat down with members of the police services who pay the equivalent of an extra car payment each month just to keep themselves pumping and healthy. There are also people who are in minimum wage jobs who have no choice but return to injections after they turn 25 because they just can’t afford to pay for their rent and their insulin pump.
This needs to change. With your help it will. Please support this initiative for all of those who choose to use an insulin pump.