By Mike Renzella
The Haldimand Press
HALDIMAND—The Ontario government has announced that roughly 29% of the province’s Type-1 diabetics will receive coverage for continuous-glucose monitoring (CGM) devices.
This is a potential game-changer for those eligible, providing easy blood sugar level checks and alerts sent to users whose levels may be dangerously high or low.
Previously, The Haldimand Press reported on the struggle to get these devices into the hands of those who need them, with the members of an online-based group called ‘Type 1 Together Ontario’ pushing hard to get the attention and action of the provincial government.
Group spokesperson John Whitehead commented on the recent funding approval: “The 1,000 members of Type 1 Together Ontario have been sending out coordinated themed tweets and emails to Christine Elliot and Doug Ford. These efforts were done on average of two times a week for the last year.”
Type 1 diabetics take a synthetic form of insulin via injection or through a pump. Glucose levels are affected by both sugar and carbohydrates and can jump or drop regularly.
Some risks a diabetic can face when their levels are too low include an increased risk of ulcers, peripheral vascular disease, kidney failure, heart disease, stroke, and vision damage.
Traditionally, testing is done with finger poke blood tests, however the use of CGM devices has proven to greatly reduce risks. Users have a series of sensors placed just under their skin that take a glucose reading every five minutes, allowing for a much more proactive approach.
Previously, The Press spoke to local parent Colleen Bazuin, whose daughter Alyssa uses a CGM device. She said, “Alyssa is able to safely attend school, play hockey, spend time with her friends, and live as normal a life as possible despite her diagnosis.”
She continued, “I am able to receive real- time readings and alerts from her device and be in contact immediately if intervention is needed, and she can have the freedom and ability to live as a normal 11-year-old instead of having to shoulder the additional responsibility of constantly monitoring her own sugar levels by poking her finger.”
The devices can be literal life-savers in the event of a hypoglycemic event while a diabetic patient is sleeping, however previous attempts to get the devices funded through OHIP have been voted down.
At a cost of roughly $300-400 a month, they can be out of reach for many individuals and families.
Whitehead commented on the recent coverage announcement, “Coverage is for those hypo unaware or unable to communicate those symptoms and also for anyone who needed to have glucogon (low bg recuse treatment) used on them for a low blood glucose event.”
The coverage, while undoubtedly a win, still lags behind other provinces, such as the Yukon, Quebec, and British Columbia, which offer coverage to patients of all ages, while patients in Manitoba and Saskatchewan can receive coverage with age restrictions
Whitehead said his group has tried to reach out to the government to thank them for the decision, but haven’t been able to garner a response.
“This is a huge win with so many now having coverage, but still so many left out,” summed up Whitehead. “It is also unfortunate that Type-2 diabetics on insulin face the same risks of low blood glucose events and they were not even considered in this announcement.”
To find out if you are eligible for coverage, speak with your physician to learn more.