An Overview of BC’s New Insulin Pump Program

BC insulin pump program expandsThe internet has been abuzz. The provincial government of BC lived up to an election promise by removing the cap on its insulin pump program. There was celebrating in the streets…until the fine print of the new program was read.

You see, this program will be unlike any other program in the country.  It will be a two-tiered program that seems to favour one insulin pump company over the others.

The issue is complex and very emotionally charged. Let’s take a closer look and you can decide for yourself if this is a step in the right direction or a step on a new and slippery path.

No more age cap

This is big news.  Adults no longer have to pay for their insulin pump out of pocket if they don’t have private insurance.  One pumper I spoke with as spent almost $20,000 to purchase insulin pumps over the past 15 years.  That is a lot for an individual to come up with every 5 years.  It is not surprising that she sees this as a welcome relief!

A two-tiered program

This is the news that has some people scratching their heads and wondering if this is such a good program after all.

All residents with diabetes will be eligible for an Omnipod insulin pump and supplies under tier one.  There will be no deductible for this system.

If you do not want this insulin pump system and feel that a Medtronic insulin pump would be better suited for your needs, you will have to convince your doctor of this as well.  Under tier two, a portion of your insulin pump and supplies will be covered if your physician prescribes a tubed (Medtronic) insulin pump.  If you simply want to own a tubed pump but your doctor does not deem it medically necessary, you will have to pay all costs out of pocket.

You can read all of the details on the BC government website here.

A pump is better than no pump

There is a school of thought that any pump is better than no pump and I can agree with that.  If you want to use an insulin pump, then this is a fabulous option if you have no coverage. You can also work with your doctor to attempt to get some relief on a tubed insulin pump if that is your preference.

It’s a win for the little guy

Some people are claiming that this is a huge coup for the little guy.  The small insulin pump company Insulet is the preferred insulin pump for the province.  That is rather significant I will agree.

It’s a start

One thing that I always tell people who ask me for tips on advocacy is to think of their “ask” as a cookie.  Every piece of the cookie that you get is a step forward.  Often you don’t get the entire “ask” (cookie) at one go so you keep asking.  You keep enjoying each bite, knowing that you are working towards having that entire cookie.

Conclusion

For residents of BC, this is another step towards the ultimate cookie. There were pumps for kids. There were pumps for adults up to age 25 and now there are Omnipods for anyone who wants them and assistance on tier two, tubed pumps.  It another step towards the goal of coverage for everyone regardless of age who wishes to use a sensor-augmented insulin pump.

Congratulations BC residents on your new insulin pump program!

One thought on “An Overview of BC’s New Insulin Pump Program”

  1. It is preposterous that the Province of British Columbia won’t cover pumps that will suspend if the bg goes too low. It is not acceptable that it will not cover cgms and its supplies. The recommendation from Ontario’s Health Quality Ontario committee was that cgms be covered for those with hypoglycemic unawareness or those unable to tell someone they are having a low bg reaction and need assistance to treat that impending hypoglycemia immediately. Obviously, B.C. is still behind Ontario. . .. We have elected an austerity leaning government so how soon the recommendations from HQO will be implemented is anyone’s guess. In the long run, pumps with cgms will save the healthcare system and the taxpayer millions of dollars, but does an austerity bent PC government understand or care about that simple fact? With regard to your cookie analogy: you and I both know that our patient needs an adequate amount of fast-acting glucose to treat a low because we have enough experience with treating low blood glucose. Half a loaf may not, in this case, be better than no loaf. The science should tell B.C. to spend the money on cgms-compatible pumps whatever they promised during the electionas the economic benefits are so obvious don’t you think?

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