Insulin pumps are worn by diabetics to monitor blood glucose levels and replace manual injections. (Wikimedia Commons)

BC insulin coverage expanding

Age restriction on insulin pumps being eliminated

Per a news release issued by the Ministry of Health, the provincial government is expanding coverage for insulin pumps and eliminating the current age restriction.

“For many individuals diagnosed with diabetes, insulin pumps can have a positive impact on their health. It allows them to better manage their condition, improving their quality of life and well-being, and preventing serious secondary conditions ranging from cardiovascular disease to nerve damage,” said Dix.

“Up to now, many people over 25 years old, who rely on an insulin pump to manage their chronic disease, have been forced to make the difficult choice between purchasing this device for their health, or foregoing it due to cost,” added Dix. “Going forward, they won’t be put in this position. Following through on a pledge made by Premier John Horgan, the provincial government is removing the age restriction for insulin pump coverage.”

Per the news release, this change in coverage, which will be taking effect on July 3, 2018, British Columbia becomes one of only three provinces to cover insulin pumps for people living with diabetes requiring one, regardless of age.

Approximately 485,000 British Columbians live with diabetes. It is expected that roughly 830 adults over 25 years of age will benefit from the expansion in the first year.

Leader of the B.C. Green Party, Andrew Weaver, also welcomed the news in a statement issued in a separate news release. Weaver had in fact called on the previous government in 2017 to eliminate age restrictions for insulin pumps.

“I welcome government’s announcement today to expand insulin pump coverage for all British Columbians requiring one to manage diabetes, eliminating age restrictions,” said Weaver.

“This technology can be life altering for those who deal with diabetes. I’ve heard stories from a number of constituents, all of whom outlined just how significantly their quality of life improved due to the technology.

“Insulin pumps are not only an effective tool for patients to manage a very dangerous disease, they’re also a preventative and cost effective measure for our healthcare,” said Weaver. “This is a forward thinking policy which will lead to better treatment of diabetes for many British Columbians.”

Ramya Hosak, the executive director and co-founder of Young and T1, a B.C.-based and volunteer-run organization for young adults living with Type 1 diabetes, also understood the overwhelming positive affect that this change would have for many who suffer from Type 1 diabetes, according to the news release.

“I am inspired as to what this means for British Columbians living with Type 1 diabetes and their loved ones. I know first-hand that this announcement will have an impact not only today, but into the future, because improved glucose control has life changing results,” said Ramya Hosak, executive director and co-founder of Young and T1, a B.C.-based and volunteer-run organization for young adults living with Type 1 diabetes.

“Insulin pumps can also help prevent eye disease, kidney disease, amputations and a number of other complications related to diabetes,” added Hosak. “I am thrilled that this investment will make sure that everyone has equal access to the best standard of care. Thank you so much.”

Further information in the news release states that While insulin pumps are not required for all individuals diagnosed with diabetes, they may offer many people a reliable and stable way of monitoring and scheduling insulin doses, which can have a positive impact on one’s quality of life. Insulin pumps can range in cost from approximately $6,000 to $7,000, and require replacing roughly every five years.

The anticipated cost of expanding insulin pump coverage to all eligible British Columbians, no matter their age, will be approximately $15 million over three years, according to thew news release.

Ultimately, this government expansion is the latest change to PharmaCare that will assist individuals living with diabetes. The government’s $105 million investment to eliminate or reduce Fair Pharmacare deductibles for low-income families also aims to reduce out-of-pocket costs incurred for other supplies and medications used as part of managing type one diabetes.

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