B.C. to eliminate rid of age restrictions covering insulin pump costs

The B.C. government will be changing the rules to make more people eligible to receive insulin pumps. AP File Photo/David J. Phillip

The B.C. government is eliminating the age restriction on covering the cost of an insulin pump.

British Columbia is set to become one of only three provinces in Canada to cover insulin pumps for people living with diabetes, regardless of age. Currently, B.C. does not provide coverage for the pumps to people over the age of 25.

“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 Health Minister Adrian 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.”

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Dix, who himself has diabetes, says the changes will come into effect on July 3. Approximately 485,000 British Columbians live with diabetes. The province is expecting that about 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,” said Ramya Hosak, executive director of a volunteer-run organization for young adults living with Type 1 diabetes. “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.”

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Insulin pumps are not required for everyone with diabetes, but they provide a reliable and stable way of monitoring and scheduling insulin doses. The pumps range in cost from approximately $6,000 to $7,000, and require replacement roughly every five years.

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The province is expecting that the new program will cost approximately $15 million over three years. Patients must meet with their diabetes physician specialist to determine whether they meet the eligibility criteria.

“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,” said Diabetes Canada regional director Sheila Kern. “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.”

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