Diabeteconomics

I found it entirely unsurpising that a recent news report on research conducted through the Jaeb Center for Health Research showed that frequent blood sugar testing was strongly associated with better diabetes management and by effect, lower HbA1c results. I also find it distressing that many people outside of Australia are faced with a cap on the number of test strips they’re allowed to use per day – effectively being prescribed a limit. Since getting my pump, I check my blood glucose about 8-10 times a day, but sometimes more, and cannot imagine being restricted.

A wise person once said to me that economics is not necessarily about money, but about values. That is, if you value something higher than something else, you will make reasonable efforts to adjust your budget accordingly to meet this valuation. I think this has some relevance to diabetes, and the sacrifices we all have to make to support the condition financially within our respective health care systems.

In Australia this is of course made easier through the National Diabetes Service Scheme, where I can get 50 Verio IQ test strips for $7.80 and there is no strict cap on strip availability. I place such value on the information that comes from regular checking, as demonstrated in the research, that I manage to incorporate this within my budget.

However, sometimes I feel like purchasing diabetes supplies is a bit like a trip to Bunnings (for those not in Oz, Bunnings is a mega home hardware store). A quick visit can quickly end up in  $150 spent on stuff for the house and garden, topped off by two sausages and a Coke Zero at the trusty sausage sizzle on the way out.

It can be surprising to see the cost add up as quickly as it does, and you never quite feel like you got everything you need.

Just the other day, I got a new batch of insulin and ordered a further $120+ worth of diabetes stuff in about 3 minutes, including pump supplies, strips and some Dex4 glucose tablets to try. But like Bunnings, it feels like I have barely scraped the surface of what I need at the moment, and further, what I value in terms of diabetes management. On top of the supplies listed above, I’m really, really due for some new sensors (I’ve talked about the benefits of CGM before). When I see my Enlite CGM sitting there unused, I feel guilty for not buying a new box, but the cost of $375 for a box of five sensors remains fairly restrictive (and I’m equally as perplexed as Renza as to why the Dexcom sensors come in at $440 for five).

Diabetes is a costly condition to live with and whilst our system is Australia has many positive aspects, and we fortunately do not have a cap on test strip supplies, it is glaringly apparent that the costs of CGM consumables need to be subsidised to enable broader usage.

Going back to “diabeteconomics”” I value the information that 10+ tests a day provides, and perhaps even more so, the data that CGMS can provide, and try to fit this within my budget as best I can. But within the current Australian parameters for access, I haven’t quite figured out how to fit regular CGM supplies in financially yet, especially given the deck isn’t going to build itself, the fence needs painting and the garden needs replanting.

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