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September 16, 2003

Insulin Pumps

Question from Minnesota, USA:

I am 31 years old, have had type 1 diabetes for six years, and we have an eight week old baby which makes it impossible to have a schedule. I recently had to switch doctors, and while my new doctor has introduced me to the insulin pump, recommends it, and says it's up to me, my old doctor never mentioned it and was against it. My A1c is usually in the low 7% range (last test was 6.7%), but I have a lot of highs and lows. What is your opinion on the insulin pump? Is it something you recommend? How long does a pump last before one has to replace it? What are the average costs per month using the pump? How badly off does a person have to be to get insurance to pay for the pump?

Answer:

Too many questions for Internet responses. I would recommend that you purchase the Insulin-Dependent Diabetes in Children, Adolescents and Adults – How to become an expert on your own diabetes by Ragnar Hanas which has an excellent chapter on insulin pump use as well as all the other excellent questions you pose.

You should also chat with some pump users your own age to see their own experiences. Lastly, go visit the four pump websites since they will all have good ideas for you to consider. Most importantly, go back and ask these questions of your physician and nurse since they can give you more specific answers related to your own situation.

SB

[Editor’s comment: In addition to what Dr Brink has suggested, I would also sit down with representatives of all the insulin pump manufacturers (or at least the ones that appeal to you) to learn more about the features, warrantees, etc. of each. They are all also well-versed in cost and insurance reimbursement issues and can best guide you.

SS]