My blog turns eleven years old today.
I could say so much about the benefits of connecting with my peers and finally, after years, realizing I was not alone with diabetes. I could fill a blog for eleven – perhaps twelve? – years with that sort of appreciation. It’s been an excellent virtual coffee date over the last eleven years.
But today, I’m angry about some stuff. And today, I’m especially grateful for a platform to share my thoughts from and a community of peers to share my thoughts with.
Yesterday, as I was having my son’s heart examined thoroughly via a fetal echocardiogram at Boston Children’s Hospital (standard screening procedure for moms with type 1 diabetes; every result was textbook fine, thank goodness), my phone was going bananas, pinging with information about a network bulletin from United Healthcare. And upon combing through the info, it was gross.
“UnitedHealthcare has reached an agreement with Medtronic to become the preferred, in-network durable medical equipment (DME) provider of insulin pumps for UnitedHealthcare Community Plan and Commercial members, effective July 1, 2016.”
This means that if you have UHC (“excludes UnitedHealthcare Sierra Health and Life Commercial members as well as all UnitedHealthcare Medicare Advantage members”), Medtronic is the pump they are offering and reimbursing. If you use another kind of insulin pump, they will cover supplies while your pump is still in warranty and functioning properly.
“UnitedHealthcare will continue to cover insulin pump supplies for all brands of insulin pumps that our members currently use while their insulin pumps are in- warranty and are still functioning properly. They do not need to make any immediate change to their pump and will not transition to a MiniMed pump until their pump is both out of warranty and not functioning properly.”
But when your warranty is up, so is your ability to choose.
I appreciate the ability to choose. I can’t un-choose diabetes, but deciding what tools I use to manage this disease is a choice I value highly. Since I started pumping insulin in 2004, I’ve used Medtronic, Animas, and Tandem insulin pumps, and have had good experiences with them all. I like them, as devices, for different reasons, and being able to switch to the pump that suits my needs best in different stages in my life has been important in taking care of me as a whole patient.
Having access to options has been instrumental in maintaining good health, and my quality of life. Diabetes hasn’t destroyed me, mentally or physically, because I’ve had access to the care I need to survive.
United Healthcare asserts what sounds to me like a, “Wait, this isn’t a big deal, you guys! You still have access to a pump; just THIS specific pump.”
“There has been no change within our medical policy for coverage of insulin pumps; this only applies to the type of device prescribed.”
It’s the “only” there that kills me. Only the type of device? Insulin pumps are very intimate, carefully chosen devices that are integrated into so many aspects of a person’s life. Insulin pumps are at our jobs with us, and while we travel. They are a part of every meal we eat, part of every blood sugar we correct. They come to bed with us every night. Mine is currently sitting on my hip while my child grows inside of me.
We’re not talking about t-shirts here; this is a medical device that is part of every moment of every day, and you’d better believe that access to having a choice matters.
I have a business relationship with Tandem Diabetes, and details of that agreement can be found here. But, to be honest, this isn’t about a business relationship. This is about my ability to access the care that drives the best outcomes for my health.
And ultimately, that’s what matters most: access.