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June 3, 2001

Insulin Pumps, Insurance/Costs

Question from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA:

I am 17 years old, have had diabetes since I was seven, and I have been in the hospital over 330 times since I was diagnosed. I got out the hospital today, and my doctor discharged me with a blood sugar of 467 mg/dl [25.9 mmol/L]. I want a insulin pump to see if I can control my sugar by myself since my doctor allowed me to go home with a high blood sugar. Do you know if Medicaid will pay for it? If so, how do I get it?

Answer:

The key question is not whether or not Medicaid will pay for an insulin pump (Medicaid covers insulin pumps if they are medically necessary), but why you are in the hospital so often. You need to sit down with your diabetes team and have an honest discussion with them about why they believe this is occurring. Insulin pumps do not operate by magic but by hard work: lots of blood glucose testing, lots of record keeping, frequent office appointments to learn how to carb count, problem solve, deal with depression and anger and frustration and other psychological barriers to improved glucose control, etc.

Best advice: go back and ask this same question to your diabetes team. If you do not have one, go get one. Then be prepared to do some reading and thinking and listening.

SB

[Editor’s comment: See: Disetronic Medical Systems, Inc. Announces New Non-Profit “Pumps for Kids” Foundation to Donate Insulin Pumps, and ask your doctor about it. I agree that the first steps you need to take are those Dr Brink has suggested.

SS]