The Case for Subsidising CGM in Australia

It’s good to see the issue of Continuous Glucose Monitoring getting more attention in the news at the moment here in Australia.

The Danii Meads Barlow Foundation have been doing a fantastic job at the moment of getting the word out into the media. A couple of weeks ago, this foundation provided Catherine Rowley with the support to address our leaders on the Q and A program regarding CGM support from the Australian government. You can read about that here. Their advocacy work also resulted in a report on Today Tonight yesterday, raising awareness of the founding couple’s daughter who passed away from unnoticed hypoglycemia during the night. The foundation are currently advocating for the government to provide $5,000 per year towards the cost of maintaining Continuous Glucose Monitoring device consumables.

Rebecca Johnson, who lives with type 1 and manages the Telethon Type 1 Diabetes Family Centre here in Western Australia, also wrote a pretty powerful piece in The West Australian newspaper yesterday. She hits the nail on the head perfectly.

“Managing type 1 diabetes comes at a cost. It costs me dignity, like the time I was spoon fed honey on the floor at a party because my blood glucose was so low I couldn’t see or talk. It costs me time: countless hours calculating insulin doses, testing my blood, counting carbohydrates. It costs me opportunities, at work and in life. It also costs a lot of money.

To monitor my blood glucose around the clock I use a thousand dollar machine that runs on a battery that costs $500 to replace. The sensors which I insert beneath my skin to read my glucose level cost $100 and must be replaced every six days.

The government does not fund continuous glucose monitors. It comes out of my pocket and it costs me, a young person with diabetes, more than $5000 a year to run. I fund it because I want to live a healthy, complication-free life, away from emergency admission and hospital stays, dialysis, eye laser treatments, chronic wound care and amputation surgery. Continuous glucose monitoring can prevent hospital admissions and expensive long term medical care for people with type 1.

In a time of extraordinary healthcare costs attached to diabetes care, our Federal Government needs to recognise that by supporting people with type 1 to take the very best care of themselves, the burden on the health system will be significantly reduced.

This device can save my life. My monitor is set up to sound a loud alarm when my blood glucose level is dropping. It wakes me in the night when it identifies a dangerous downward trend before my glucose is so low I can’t move or help myself.

To me, continuous glucose monitoring technology is the single most important innovation in diabetes management since the invention of synthetic insulin. It gives real time glucose information to people with diabetes to identify trends in their levels and fine tune their diabetes control. This essential biofeedback is something that every person with type 1 diabetes needs to better understand and manage their condition.

It is also the only technology that can help prevent “dead in bed” syndrome, where people go to bed with normal glucose levels and are found dead in the morning from massive, undetected overnight hypoglycemia.

Continuous Glucose monitoring is streets ahead of pricking your fingers up to 10 times a day to test your blood for glucose. Testing like this is relatively easy in daylight hours, but often many hours are left unmonitored overnight. Unmonitored glucose levels are fraught with danger. Glucose levels that are too high damage every organ and system in the body, increading the risk of kidney failure, heart disease or blindness. And if glucose levels drop too low, the sleeping person can seize, fall into a coma, and die.

A hospital admission for a single severe hypoglycaemic event costs the public system over $5,000. Treatment of diabetes related complications can cost more than $11,000 a year per patient.

It takes a visionary government to invest in new technology, and the case for funding continuous glucose monitoring is compelling. It will save the public system money, time and resources immediately and in the future. It will also give me and other sufferers a daily blessing. We will wake up in the morning.”

I am certain that every person with diabetes would accept CGM technology if it were more accessible here in Australia. If you would like to see CGM technology subsidised by the Australian government, then I urge you to write to your local Member of Parliament, and to the Minister for Health Susan Ley (click for contact details).

4 thoughts on “The Case for Subsidising CGM in Australia

  1. It’s brilliant that more is being done to get CGMs covered. I wrote to my local member who passed it on to the Minister for Health. Sadly all I got was a generic reply saying how much is already covered in terms of diabetes care. However, they saw it. They’re aware of it.
    Better than nothing right 🙂

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