Monday, September 19, 2011

Hi Ho, Hi Ho, its off to the polls we go!

Fall is in the air, and here in Canada this means a large number of provinces are heading to the polls to elect new leaders. My province is no different.  In October we will look towards a new government to steer us forward over the next four years.

I am not that psyched up about this election. I am quite sure that the governing party will again win a majority. Nothing much will change. Nonetheless, I was thinking about the issue that many people living with diabetes will bring to their provincial representatives--provincial coverage of insulin pump therapy.  It is still a huge issue and far too many provinces are not covering pumps.  Even for the few that do offer coverage, the provinces seem to think that at the magic age of 18 (or 25 in Newfoundland and Labrador) that people with diabetes will suddenly be blessed with ideal private insurance coverage or exceptionally lucrative jobs and no longer need to have provincial assistance.

Knowing this, I shook my head when I read an article today from the European Association for the Study of Diabetes.  It confirmed the value of CGM for Type 1 Diabetes in significantly reducing the HbA1c in people who used real time systems. This means that a CGM is a valuable tool in maintaining and even improving the health of my son and others living with Type 1 Diabetes. 

The problem with this is that we struggle to get our provincial health departments to cover insulin pump therapy.  We tell them the huge financial benefits in the form of decreased hospitalization and improved control but still they are reluctant to cover this device.  How do we now convince them that pumps AND CGM really do save and improves lives for people with diabetes?  How do we make this an election issue? How do we remind them the value of a  human life? How do we make them understand that money spent on this complete system will save them huge amounts in terms of reduced complications.  Reduced complications means reduced stress on the health care system in terms of cost of dealing with such costly things as cardiac events and kidney disease.

How do we get them to understand that the cost of an insulin pump, CGM, and supplies for one person will be returned to them and then some in the taxes that these individuals will pay each year.  These are not the dead beats of society.  People with diabetes, like many others, strive to be productive, taxpaying members of society.  It is much easier for them to do this when they are able to better manage their diabetes and therefore their health by using a insulin pump and CGM.

The way to convince them is to educate them. We must bring these issues up to our candidates.  We pressure them to follow through on improving the lives of people with diabetes when they are elected.  We work to garner the support of the next Health Ministers.  We make sure that the future Finance Ministers of our provinces understand the financial benefits of insulin pump therapy combined with CGM, not just for our young children but for all of our loved ones living with Type 1 Diabetes.

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