Diabetes treatment shouldn't be tied to 'privilege of having employment,' says advocate

·2 min read

Changes to the diabetes strategy on P.E.I. announced last week are not enough, say a local advocate and Diabetes Canada.

The province increased the number of test strips it will provide every month and raised the age for insulin pump coverage from 18 to 25.

"This is too small a step," said Brooks Roche, who has been lobbying the government for changes.

"More needs to be done."

Roche said he has been using a glucose monitor connected to an insulin pump for about a year and a half, and it is difficult to describe the difference it has made in his life.

"The sense of security and the sense of being able to participate and contribute and not to live such an intense sense of anxiety about, can I do what my peers are doing, can I live a day that's a little bit spontaneous," he said.

Fiscal and social sense

It is not just about the difference in one person's life, both Roche and Diabetes Canada argue.

Providing coverage for people of all ages makes both fiscal and social sense. The complications that can result from diabetes that is not effectively managed can be expensive for the health care system.

"We need to support them in maintaining their health. It's good for short-term health care cost avoidance and long-term health-care cost avoidance," said Kim Hanson, director of federal affairs for Diabetes Canada.

Cutting people off at age 25 is particularly harsh, said Hanson, particularly for people with Type 1 diabetes who will have to manage the disease for their entire lives.

"Think about the position many folks are in when they turn 25 in our country," she said.

"They're not in a position to be able to fork four-, five-, six-thousand dollars for diabetes devices every single year."

Adam Bird/The Associated Press
Adam Bird/The Associated Press

Many private insurance plans cover the insulin pumps, but Roche said it is not right that people should have to rely on that.

"It hurts me to know that there are folks out there that would benefit so, so much from this technology, who are unable to access it," he said.

"We absolutely cannot continue tying access to proper treatment to the privilege of having employment."

CBC News asked Health PEI for more details about the strategy, and how much adding more resources would cost. The agency has not yet provided that information.

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