From July 1, 2016, the Australian government is introducing changes to the way that people with diabetes access subsidised diabetes consumables through the National Diabetes Services Scheme (NDSS). This includes test strips, insulin pump consumables, needles and syringes.
People with diabetes will no longer be able to order their consumables through Diabetes Australia, or state and territory outlets. There will be a number of new NDSS access points created in response to this change, promising greater access and convenience for consumers.
I’ve always accessed consumables through my local pharmacy, which is an NDSS outlet. However, I expect that there are many people who would prefer the convenience of ordering in bulk. Prior to these changes, people were able to order a 6 month supply of consumables from Diabetes Australia and have them delivered to their door.
I know personally how difficult it is to purchase in bulk, or to “stock up” at a pharmacy without having uncomfortable questions asked about why I need so much. I try to get around this by making more frequent visits to the pharmacy and purchasing in smaller amounts, but doing so does take away the element of convenience.
Another big change will see people with type 2 diabetes who are not using insulin restricted to a 6 month supply of test strips. Further access to strips will be in the hands of a healthcare professional. To quote the Department of Health, “people with type 2 diabetes not using insulin do not need to constantly monitor their blood glucose levels with strips.”
The decision to use glucose monitoring to manage any kind of diabetes is an individual one. This decision should be in the hands of the patient, and not the healthcare professional. By taking away this element, I don’t believe that we are empowering people to manage their diabetes. Although I’m a type 1, I’m a high user of test strips and I couldn’t imagine my life without them. I wrote about this change in more detail here.
6 month test strip limits will also apply to Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander people with type 2 diabetes, who access their strips free through Aboriginal Health Services.
These changes are obviously designed to make the delivery side of the NDSS more efficient and cost effective. The government promises that funds saved will be reinvested into support and education programs run by Diabetes Australia, and state and territory organisations.
Most importantly, though, in my opinion, is that I won’t be forced to pay any more for my diabetes supplies as a result of these changes.
You can read more about the upcoming changes to the NDSS here.