Category Archives: government aid

Twice a week should do it!

Over the holidays, my boys  and I were sitting at our kitchen table enjoying an after supper conversation.  My youngest son happened to look at a drug store receipt on the table and said “$160 for a month of test strips? That’s crazy!”

I quickly explained that sadly that did not cover a month’s worth of testing.  I also reminded him that there was still the cost of insulin and pump supplies to add to that monthly diabetes care bill. 

He was completely incensed.  He was adamant that he would NOT be spending that kind of money on his diabetes care when he was older.  This was insane by his calculation.  No one should have to pay such crazy amounts to stay alive.

He decided that he would have to seriously cut down his testing when he was forced to cover his own supply costs.  He informed me that when we went to diabetes events and he filled out cards, they always asked if he tested only a few times per week.  He had to state that he was the child of an obsessive tester and tested closer to 10 times per day.  My young son felt that these cards(geared to people with Type 2 diabetes) justified him not testing in his adult years.

I groaned and tried to explain to him that a lack of testing was not an option to consider.  I had invested in a Disability Savings Plan for him and reminded him that it would give him some money towards his diabetes supplies when he was older.  I also encouraged him to keep contributing and taking advantage of the free government money.

This did nothing to pacify him.  He remained horrified at the cost of his care. He decided that it was the job of the government to cover his costs.  If they did not pay for his supplies, he would die. It was simple.

I wish it was that simple. I wished that governments actually cared. His throught processes scare me at times. I pray that he does have good coverage when he gets older…and more importantly that he uses the tools available to him to keep himself healthy.

Nova Scotia Government is Scrooge for those with Diabetes

After the announcement earlier this month  by the Saskatchewan government that they would be expanding their coverage of diabetes devices and supplies, Nova Scotia has sadly announced this week that they will not cover insulin pumps for residents of any age. I have to admit that I remain very shocked and disappointed by this announcement.

I have met a number of people who have worked hard in Nova Scotia for a lot of years to see improved access to devices and supplies in that province. I am surprised that their efforts continue to go for not.

When Nova Scotia elected an NDP government, I thought that a pump program would be guaranteed.  My knowledge of politics is minimal. I have no political affiliation or loyalty. I vote for you if I like you and think that you are actually doing your job.  Its that simple for me.  I also have a very limited idea of the basic principals behind of most political parties.  In Grade 10 social studies I was taught that the Liberals are “liberal” and believe in social programming.  The Conservatives are not as interested in social spending and believe you should make it on your own merit.  The NDP are far right and thus believe even more in social responsibility that the liberals.  That was how I saw it. 

It was because of this view that I felt that an NDP government in Nova Scotia would ensure improved health care.  They were about social responsibility right? They believed in helping those less fortunate or those who cannot afford the best medical treatment, weren’t they? I guess not.

This scare me.  I am not concerned with the fact that my general view of  political parties is obviously off but I am concerned with a government that has just said NO.  If our socialized health care is not a priority for a social party what hope do we have? If they will not help out those who cannot afford to avail of the latest technological advances and best medicines, then what will happen when devices like the Artificial Pancreas are developed? We will be living in a very two tiered system. Perhaps we already are. Those who can afford to quality care for themselves or their loves ones will get it. Those who can’t don’t and won’t. That is disturbing.

What happens in those families with more than one person with diabetes? How do they cope without government help? How do they keep themselves healthy? I have already seen families where Mom does not test as often so that her son can have more test strips. I have seen families where a parent has to decide which child will get an insulin pump and which child will have to stay on shots because she/he cannot afford to pay for it for both. 

During the holiday season, we think of spending money on gifts. Can we afford to buy our child the latest xBox game? Have we bought them a new laptop or tablet to put under the tree? Should we buy our loved one a new iPhone? The list goes on but for many living with diabetes, one xBox game is equal to a box of 100 test strips.  A tablet would cover a month’s worth of pump supplies.  An iPhone may be the same price as a CGM. 

This is not the way our country is supposed to be.  This is not how Canadians should live.  This needs to be fixed.  We need governments that care.  No to medical devices and supplies is just not acceptable. We must say yes to compassion, yes to improved health, and yes to looking after those who cannot look after themselves. Access to medical devises and supplies should be a given not a budgetary issue.  Things must change.

Dear Minister of Health, Why won’t you cover my insulin pump?

Over the past few weeks I have received a number of emails from frustrated parents.  Their children are moving onto post-secondary school and have reached the magic age of 18.  Their pump coverage, if there ever was any, is ending and the parents are at their wits end. They fear the high costs associated with pumping will mean that their children will have to use a less effective method of managing their diabetes.

Why does coverage end at 18? Yes, diagnosis usually happens before 18 but why end coverage at that point? The disease didn’t stop.  They still need a pump, insulin and supplies.  Why is this happening? Why aren’t more provinces covering pumps? What is going on?

Those are just some of the questions and frustrations that I hear. I truly feel for all of these parents.  When my son received his first pump, it was given out of love.  We were at a family reunion and my son was on multiple daily injections.  He ate at specific times–which did not mesh with the times that the rest of the family was eating.  He often sat alone. It was heartbreaking. They had heard me talk about an insulin pump and decided to pool their money so that he could have one. I cried a lot that day.  The memory still makes my eyes fill with tears.

His pump supplies came in a no less emotional way.  I wondered how we would pay for them. An extra $200+ per month in a single income family would not be an easy burden but my son’s health was at stake.  A friend knew of our plight.  She had extra supplies and made sure to share with us.  She found others who were switching pumps and no longer needed their supplies.  They were sent to us as well. It was a true blessing that we were later able to share with someone else.

A few months before my son’s pump warranty was to expire, our advocacy efforts paid off once more and the province that we live in stated that they would cover insulin pumps for children up to age 18.  This was a victory.  We now had the first bite out of the cookie but the rest of it was still out there.  With a lot more hard work, letter writing and educating, we were able to add young adults up to the age of 25. The final piece will be to get all adults covered and that must still be done.

Back to the original question though–why 18? I think its completely political.  A small child with a pump looks good on the government who provides it.  Can you imagine depriving a three year old of a piece of medical equipment? Now look at the image of an adult with a pump.  The adult can get a job.  They can pay for their own pump. Why should everyone else pay for them? They can live without a pump.  Injections keep them alive and if they would go out and get a real job they would have their own insurance that would cover luxuries like a pump.

Okay that was pretty crass but sadly some people will view it that way.  As a person who has advocated from pumps for all ages, I tend to try to spin things in a different way.  Many adults will have jobs that provide them with the insurance to cover their pumps. Even more adults with Type 1 diabetes would have the opportunity to be in the workforce if they had a better method of insulin delivery through access to an insulin pump.  The number of adults who require pumps and do not have insurance is relatively small but their choice of occupation or employer should not dictate if they can use an insulin pump or not. 

When my son talks of a career, my mind quickly turns to “what sort of benefits will that job come with? How will you afford to cover your supplies?”  I hate that. Why should my son be limited by a disease that costs so much to take care of?

So to answer the question, why does coverage end at age 18? Because we still have to educate the public and those in government who control the purse strings why continuing pump coverage makes financial sense.  We have to teach them that the small outlay of cash to maintain the program throughout the life of the person with diabetes will mean that these same people can be productive members of the workforce for longer and have a lower chance of being a burden on the health care system because of complications.

To the question, when will our province provide any coverage? The answer has some of the same components as the last one…when we educate them.  When we make them understand that the benefits far outweigh the costs.  Only then will we see improved coverage. 

People are working on this and have been for years.  We need more people working together.  We need our voice to be stronger…and it will!