Last week, the B.C. provincial government announced it will begin to reimburse people with diabetes who are on intensive insulin therapies using a Continuous Glucose Monitoring (CGM) System.
The coverage, through BC PharmaCare, is for people over the age of two, who have Type 1 Diabetes (T1D) or have Type 2 Diabetes (T2D) and use insulin. More than 520,000 people in BC are diagnosed with T1D and T2D and estimates are that an additional 1 million people have undiagnosed T2D and prediabetes combined.
A CGM such as the Dexcom G6 CGM System includes a small, wearable sensor that measures glucose just below the skin; a transmitter to continuously and wirelessly send glucose levels to a display device; and a compatible smart device or receiver that displays real-time glucose data to users without the need for finger sticks or scanning. CGM devices can improve diabetes management and quality of life for both the patient and their caregivers, increasing confidence and reducing stress by making blood glucose readings easier to obtain. With the increase in use of telemedicine practices as a result of COVID, devices like CGMs have been valuable in helping physicians monitor patients’ levels remotely and in real-time.
How important is this coverage? Nadia Bruemmer of Kimberley says the device has been life changing for her, and without coverage is something a lot of diabetes patients simply could not afford.
Broomier is a geologist who currently works with the provincial government.
She has advocated for CGM coverage at work, changed her career for better coverage, and fought with insurance companies for coverage but to no avail.
“I have been diabetic for 18 years,” she said. “I have been using the sensor for 17 years and paying for it myself.”
The sensor can cost $299 a month and up, and although you can deduct it on your taxes, she says that doesn’t really amount to much.
And it is an invaluable tool in managing ones diabetes and also providing peace of mind.
“I’ve had five seizures,” she said. “It got so I was afraid to go to sleep. I live alone. Luckily, with all but one I had someone there who could give me sugar.
“It’s a massive quality of life difference,” she said.
She says because she is constantly able to monitor her sugar levels, she can be more physically active. She is enjoying skiing, and being able to go on long drives, because she will receive a warning when she needs to take on sugar.
The Medical Director of BC Diabetes, Dr. Tom Elliott says, “CGMs lead to better glycemic control for patients and gives physicians better insight into patients’ levels to make treatment decisions”.
Other provinces are also coming on board in offering public coverage for CGM systems, including Yukon, Quebec and Saskatchewan.
“As a BC-based company, we are thrilled by today’s announcement and the province’s commitment to the diabetes community,” says Laura Endres, Vice President and General Manager of Dexcom Canada. “We have seen the impact of improved access to CGM to truly change lives, and we look forward to continuing our work toward access for all those impacted by diabetes across Canada.”