Government expanding coverage for insulin pumps, eliminating age restriction

Adrian Dix
Photo by Chandra Bodalia

HEALTH Minister Adrian Dix on Tuesday announced the provincial government is expanding insulin pump coverage, so any British Columbian requiring one to manage diabetes will have access under PharmaCare.

“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.”

With this change in coverage, taking effect on July 3, 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.

“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.”

While not required for all individuals diagnosed with diabetes, insulin pumps 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.

“On behalf of B.C. volunteer advocates, Diabetes Canada commends the provincial government for making this decision. Type 1 diabetes doesn’t stop at age 25, and we are so pleased that insulin pump coverage won’t also. Insulin pumps provide people living with diabetes with more accurate insulin dosing, decreasing dramatic fluctuations in blood-glucose levels, leading to an improved quality of life,” said Sheila Kern, regional director, B.C. and Yukon, Diabetes Canada.

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. Patients must meet with their diabetes physician specialist to determine whether they meet the eligibility criteria for an insulin pump. The patient’s physician would then apply to PharmaCare’s special authority department for insulin pump coverage.

 

Quick Facts:

* This announcement expands the insulin pump program which, when introduced in 2008, provided coverage to children up to the age of 18. The age restriction was then expanded in 2014 to include those living with Type 1 diabetes, or other forms of diabetes requiring insulin that meet specific criteria, up to the age of 25.

* The expansion of insulin pump coverage 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 – the first in 15 years – will also reduce out-of-pocket costs incurred for other supplies and medications used as part of managing this chronic disease.

* PharmaCare covers effective therapies for the treatment and management of diabetes, including a number of oral medications and a range of insulin products. In addition, PharmaCare covers insulin vials, cartridges, insulin pens and other diabetic supplies, including needles, syringes and blood-glucose test strips.

* The ministry also offers a diabetes management incentive payment, which encourages doctors to offer diabetes patients continuous care that meets the provincial guidelines. In 2017-18, more than 3,400 family doctors received B.C.’s diabetes management incentive payment for over 208,300 patients.

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1 COMMENT

  1. Does this cover the life saving continuous glucose monitoring system that costs 800 a month? Its saved my life 3 times from going low in the middle of the night and works with the insulin pump, making it alarm and shut off.

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