Thursday 15 September 2011

To Fund or Not to Fund; the Shenanigans of the Alberta Diabetes Debate

Tuesday night I was watching my local 11:00pm news, reading a book while watching, paying limited attention to the stories until my ears perked up at the mention of the words "diabetes" and "insulin pump." I quickly found myself getting quite upset at the content of the story, so much so that I rewound the article twice to ensure that I had heard everything correctly. I then even hit record on the PVR so that I could re-watch the story in the morning with fresh eyes.

A bit of factual background presented at the offset of the article:
1) "Every 7 seconds somebody around the world dies of diabetes and that number is rising, even though the disease is largely preventable"
2) by the year 2030 there will be an estimated 5 million diabetes diagnoses
3) Diabetes is expected to rise 3% within the current decade
Now the story did not differentiate between Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes, but I am assuming (hoping) that point 1's reference to "preventable" was meant to describe Type 2 only, and that points 2 and 3 refers to all forms of diabetes, be it Type 1, Type 2, LADA, etc.

So here's the deal. In Canada, most provinces provide funding, at least in part, to help offset the outrageous cost of purchasing an insulin pump. They also help with the cost of maintaining the pump (including covering the cost of infusion sets and reservoirs. Sensor/CGM costs are not covered). In BC, where I live, this funding is a recent change, but a much needed one. The current issue involves the province of Alberta (next door to BC, and directly north of Montana) where the government has been debating whether or not they should join the majority of the other provincial and begin to cover insulin pump costs.

It all came to light Tuesday when the CDA (Canadian Diabetes Association) released a report stating that the Alberta gov't will not be providing any funding for insulin pumps, even though they have one of the highest rates of diabetes in the country. The reason stated by the government is that they would prefer to focus on "preventing diabetes" in the first place and that because type 2 makes up 90% of the diagnoses in Alberta, the government feels it's in their best interest to focus on prevention rather than treatment. The CDA has argued, and rightfully so, that over the next 20 years, an insulin pump program could save the province up to $10.8 million. 

The outcome: The Alberta health minister agrees that the statistics presented by the CDA are convincing and the government will continue to keep the issue "on its radar."

My questions for readers are twofold: What type of funding/subsidy options are there for insulin pumps where you live? And do you believe that the government should be responsible for helping families with the costs of an insulin pump and its supplies/maintenance?

Both the footage of the television segment, as well as the print article, can be found here: Alberta has high diabetes rate but won't fund insulin pumps.

1 comment:

  1. Okay, so that makes no sense because the vast majority of people using insulin pumps have type 1 diabetes which is not preventable. That is a really weak argument on their part.