New Brunswick eliminates age cap on insulin pump coverage

Click to play video: 'N.B. to begin covering insulin pumps for diabetes patients'
N.B. to begin covering insulin pumps for diabetes patients
Diabetes patients of all ages can now apply to have the cost of their insulin pumps covered by the province. As Suzanne Lapointe reports, the costly devices can provide life-saving care – Jul 31, 2023

Diabetes patients of all ages will soon be able to apply for provincial coverage to pay for insulin pumps.

Starting on Aug. 15th, those with Type 1 diabetes aged 25 and over will be able have the costs of the equipment covered if they are unable to get it covered through insurance.

At an announcement on Monday, Health Minister Bruce Fitch said,” “There’ll be fewer complications, there’ll be a reduction in the number of hospitalizations and all around better health outcomes for people living with Type 1 diabetes.”

The pumps can cost up to $7,000.

Glenn Thibeault, Diabetes Canada’s executive director of government affairs, advocacy and policy called the announcement “a step in the right direction.”

He said the prohibitive cost of the equipment meant some people had to forego buying insulin pumps, which could have serious repercussions on someone’s health.

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“There are many stories, not just here in New Brunswick but from coast to coast to coast, where individuals chose not to spend the money on the pump,” he said.

“And then they got a small sore on their foot and all the sudden it’s evolved into an amputation, which can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars for the health system.”

Type 1 diabetes patient Katie Jeffrey works as a registered dietitian in the Moncton Hospital’s diabetes clinic.

She said some patients have had to turn to crowdfunding

“It was either donation based or your parents would have to save for years,” she said.

“It comes down to every four five years your pump needs to be upgraded so you have to purchase a new one.”

The province also has plans to offer coverage for continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) equipment in the near future.

This equipment is used to monitor blood sugar levels on a continuous basis so diabetes patients can prevent and treat changes when they occur, rather than periodically checking their blood sugar with finger stick testing.

According to Diabetes Canada, CGM monitors can cost between $3,000 to $6,000 a year.

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