Lettuce, Needles, Insulin, Sites…Oh my!

supplies andmore
Diabetes is expensive.

It is not a statement that needs debate.

It is not a statement that requires a disclaimer. Diabetes is expensive.

In order to stay healthy, a person with diabetes requires daily supplies that can include everything from candies or some sort of sugar for lows, insulin to sustain life and combat highs, test strips to check and see where blood glucose levels are and much,much  more.

They, like everyone else on the planet, require healthy meals filled with fresh fruit, fresh vegetables and lean protein.  Shopping for healthy foods is expensive.

Diabetes related medical supplies, healthy meals…they are all costly but if a person with diabetes is not purchasing these items and keeping themselves healthy then the costs continue to go up for themselves and for society.

A person with diabetes who does not or cannot take proper care of themselves will find themselves sick.  This often means that they will miss time from work.  Missed work means less tax dollars for the governments and a strain for the employers.

If the person with diabetes finds themselves in an even worse physical state, they may need to be hospitalized.  We have talked before about how expensive that can be.

What is the solution? I can’t say that I know for certain.

We need access to the best supplies and training for all individuals.  How would that best be done? Again, I am not sure but my thoughts run along the lines of improved private plans in the workplace. I would also like to see the availability of expanded insulin pump programs in all provinces or at least access to income based subsidies for these items.

Right now families having to fundraise to purchase the basic supplies for their loved ones. There is something fundamentally wrong with that in my opinion.

We need more reasonable access to “healthy” groceries.  Last week, I went to pick up a few things for the weekend.  I have developed a gluten intolerance and my partner is currently on a weight program that provides him with most of his own food.  This means that I was buying only fruits, vegetables, and dairy products.  I did splurge and buy two small roasts as well.  Our total bill for three bags of groceries was over $160.

In Canada, and in other countries I am certain, we need change.  A “Sugar tax” has been thrown around repeatedly as an option but many people with diabetes see that as a slap. Sugar is what keeps them alive when insulin fails them.  They pay for supplies. They pay for healthy food and now they will be penalized for the sugar that may save their lives. There is something wrong with that.

There is still a lot to do still.  The answers are not always as clear as they first appear but we will keep working. We will keep trying to keep people with diabetes alive and healthy…until there is a cure.

Are we too quiet?

I had a conversation this morning that has left me thinking, wondering, planning, dreaming….

The conversation was about patient engagement, access to medications and much more. It was very interesting and a bit refreshing.

The ins and outs of the conversation are neither here nor there.  What got me thinking however was his claim that after working for years in the realm of cancer drugs, he found that support for new drugs in diabetes was much more lacking. He didn’t see the same enthusiasm and support from groups and individuals that there was in the world of cancer.

All of this got me thinking. How could we be louder? I know that patients love to see new technologies but sadly often can’t afford them. What if working with by pharma companies, access could become easier? What if we are too quiet? What if we weren’t talking to the right people? How could we fix that?

I wondered if we need one super diabetes advocacy group.  A group that wasn’t bothered by anything but advocacy. It wouldn’t do walks, build camps, or even fund research.  It would  focus solely on issues of concern to those living with diabetes.

It would advocate for fairness… Fairness for children in schools.  Fairness for adults in the work place to have access to quality care through private and public insurance.  Fairness for our seniors to have the proper tools to look after their diabetes needs.

Who would it talk to? Everyone! This would be a group that would unite grassroots organizations all over the country. Instead of each province, each town, or individual fighting on their own, it would draw on the wisdom, experience and knowledge of the group.  Together they would talk to governments, agencies, insurance companies if need be.  They would educate and advocate for improvements.

Where would this super group meet? Online of course.  If we are looking at a power house that reaches the entire country then online meetings would be the logical choice.  Group, in person brainstorming would be great now and then but that would cost money.

Money. That’s another issue of course. Yes, this super group would have to find a way to fund itself.  It would have to be able to compensate people for some of their time.  It would have to be able to find a way to pay for travel and meetings with people.  I have no idea as to how that would work.  I have never taken this dream to reality.  That’s why its still a dream.

Back to the basic group however.  It would be made up of people…real people living in every area of the country who are currently fighting for change.  These people would have a background and a network that they would represent when they came to the super advocacy table.

The group would have people knowledgeable in numbers and finance.  There would be people with a scientific background who could amass journal data.  There would be people knowledgeable in media who would change our reputation from quiet and passive to strong and loud.

What do you think of the idea of a group dedicated to advocacy alone? Again,  group that would not fund research or send kids to camp.  It would not provide pumps or supplies.  It would seek access for everyone. It would seek access to safety in schools. It would seek access to the most advance medical technology at a reasonable cost.  It would seek fairness amid insurance companies. It would seek assistance for seniors.

What else would your super group need? Who would you want to see involved? How would you fund it? What would you do to make the voice of the Canadian diabetes community louder?

Please let me know.  This really has me thinking. Hopefully it has you thinking as well. super cape

Save today and save more tomorrow

In Canada the economy is in a mess. All levels of government seem to have an incredible debt load. They are constantly in the media looking for ways to save money. They are asking people where they feel that they can make cuts.

I have also been reading posts about adults with diabetes who are having to pay for their own syringes and strips. There are stories of young adults asking why they are paying for needles that keep them alive when drug addicts are getting needles to keep them high for free. There are conversations about seniors who have no coverage at all or are given one box of test strips to cover them for an entire year. My heart breaks for these people. I am terrified for their health. I seriously wonder what governments have been thinking for all of these years.

I have been at this diabetes advocacy thing for many, many years now. Back when I was first gathering information on the cost of insulin pump therapy versus the savings, I learned about the high cost of complications. I quickly understood however, that the government of now is not interested in the worries of the government of tomorrow. They were not interested in paying for pumps and quality care today to save on dialysis tomorrow. They wanted to not pay for dialysis today. This shortsightedness has led us to where we are today.

I am not sure what the cost of a hospital stay is currently but the Toronto Star put it at $7000 per visit in 2008.

According to Diabetes Depot, for $7000 you can purchase…

  • 61 5x3mL cartridges of Lantus
  • 50 5x3ml cartridges of Levemir
  • 206 10ml vials of Novorapid
  • 215 10ml vials of Humalog
  • boxes of 100 Lifescan glucometer strips
  • 184 boxes of 100 per box BD Ultrafine II Insulin Syringes 1/2cc 30 gauge
  • 116 boxes of Animas insulin cartridges
  • 37 boxes of Paradigm Quick-set infusion sets
  • 22boxes of 5 per box Enlite Glucose sensors
  • One insulin pump (which is guaranteed for 4-5 year)

So for every time a person with diabetes goes to the hospital–and my old research said that on average a person with diabetes may go into the hospital for an emergency three times per year if they were not well-managed, the government could have bought them syringes, or insulin, or strips, or all of the above and saved money.

If a person was hospitalized TWICE per year, based on my calculation last year, the government could have paid for a sensor augmented pump AND all of its supplies for the year for the same amount.

Sadly provinces are not covering sensor augmented pumps.  Many provinces are not covering pumps for adults.  There are provinces not covering insulin, syringes or test strips for people living with diabetes.  That worries me greatly.

It worries me that people are not able to properly take care of themselves.  It worries me that governments are looking for ways to cut costs without looking at the bigger picture.  I have sat at pre-budget consultation tables.  I have asked and have heard others ask for governments to invest in keeping people healthy today so that we don’t have to pay much larger bills tomorrow.

I don’t know when they will truly begin to listen.  I will continue to suggest as I know many others of you will as well, that they look at preventative measures over short term cuts.  In the meantime, I will be saddened and worried for those who struggle to afford proper medical care and treatment.  I will also be motivated by them as well.

Together we will one day see real change for all of our sakes.

diabetes supplies