Cost of continuous glucose monitoring prohibitive for most


Findings released from one of the largest surveys of people with type 1 diabetes (T1D) reveals the cost of managing the condition is resulting in poor health outcomes, including depression.

More than three quarters of people with T1D cannot afford continuous glucose monitoring as they are already financially stretched—with on average of out-of-pocket cost of $4,777 per year to cover health insurance, medical appointments and monitoring equipment, including continuous glucose monitors (CGM).

Research studies show accurate monitoring of blood glucose levels is crucial to reducing the risk of hospitalisation and access to technology is key to delivering this for many people with T1D.1 The survey, commissioned by JDRF, found for the more than one in 10 (12%) Australians with T1D have a household income of less than $40,000 per year.1 Additionally, the research shows that people experience, on average, three hypoglycaemic events per week, with a quarter ending up with a hospital visit.

JDRF CEO Mike Wilson says: “Everyone living with T1D should have access to a basic standard of care, which today involves access to T1D technology. Our task is to ensure more Australians with T1D can access that technology. Further, we want to make certain that those who have access don’t lose it, those who need it can get it, and everyone can choose what is best for them from the available options.”

According to the results of the JDRF survey, close to three quarters (71%) of Australians with T1D who do not own a CGM cite cost as the main reason, with this number jumping to 88% for those aged between 30–49 years.1

Additionally, financial worries are exacerbating mental health issues for Australians living with T1D, with half (50%) experiencing feelings of depression and almost nine out of 10 (87%) revealing their condition negatively impacts their quality of life.1 With numbers disproportionately higher for those in financially challenged positions (57% and 90% respectively).1

“Getting access to diabetes technology in Australia is difficult and complicated. Private health insurance and government subsidy programs can provide access to T1D management equipment for some Australians,” Wilson explains. “However, not everyone is eligible for subsided equipment and many can’t afford private health insurance or to buy the technology outright.”

Although he concedes Australia largely has a fair public health system, when it comes to diabetes technology, it is “inequitable”.

“If the concept of universal healthcare is to ring true for the Australian T1D population, particularly adults, we need to make technology access better, fairer and smarter.”

In its recent pre-budget submission,2 JDRF called on the government to continue eligibility for CGMs access when a person turns 21 and extend access to the Insulin Pump Program from 18 to 21.

“This would make access to technology better. To make it fairer, there needs to be some consideration by the government to create a safety net in particular for those who can’t afford access to technology.

“Additionally, we can make the system fairer by ensuring the regulatory and reimbursement environment are fit for purpose. The government needs to ensure that potentially game changing technology is accessible and affordable,” says Wilson.

Key findings

  • 30% of respondents say T1D represents a very large financial burden.
  • 46% of people who don’t have a pump say the cost is the reason why—this number rises to 71% for CGMs.
  • Those with a lower income are less likely to consider their knowledge of T1D technology to be good.
  • Those who say their management of T1D is poor are more likely to suffer from mental health impacts.
  • People with T1D say they engage in fewer social activities, romantic relationships (40%) and career choices (33%).
  • Almost a third of respondents say they have to decline spur of the moment events because of lack of supplies or because they fear their diabetes will be hard to manage.
  • 30% of respondents say they receive very little to no support outside the healthcare system.

You can read the full report by following the links: https://jdrf.org.au/100years/


References

  1. Lonergan Foundation, 2020. JDRF Australia Study Report – Insights into type 1 diabetes people in Australia.
  2. Submitted in partnership with the Diabetes Alliance.

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