Manitoba group seeking coverage for modern tech for diabetes management
WINNIPEG -- A group of Manitobans is calling the technology the province covers for diabetes management outdated.
Since the 80s, people with diabetes have used finger pricks to test their blood sugar, but new devices have modernized the method, and the group says it's better for everyone if the cost of those were covered instead.
Trevor Kirczenow’s was among the protesters. It came as a shock when Kirczenow's nine-year-old son, Matthew, was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes a year and a half ago.
"But even more shocking, in a way, was the same day that he was diagnosed in the hospital, the doctor there asked us about our private health coverage," Kirczenow said,
Kirczenow said the coverage for their son was needed for a continuous glucose monitor (CGM), which they said is not covered in Manitoba.
"In Manitoba we only have coverage for manual finger pricks, which is technology dating back to the 1980s," Kirczenow said.
To show how out-of-date finger pricking is, the group ‘Emergency Diabetes Support for Manitobans’ brought other technology from that decade to the foot of the Manitoba Legislative Building on Tuesday.
"You couldn't imagine running a business off a typewriter today, so why should Manitobans be expected to manage their diabetes using such old technology, when much better technology exists now?" Kirczenow said.
According to Diabetes Canada, advanced glucose monitors cost anywhere from $2,500 to $5,000 per year.
The cost is a barrier for Manitobans who don't have private health coverage.
"I can’t afford the expense of that technology right now," said Colin Mehmel.
The Emergency Diabetes Support for Manitobans group said covering CGM is a win-win, because the cost to the province isn't that different and people would have much better control over a chronic disease that affects the whole body.
"That's kidney failure and needing dialysis. That’s heart disease and stroke, vision loss, amputations. Those are all incredibly expensive and devastating complications,” Kirczenow said.
Premier Brian Pallister said Health Minister Heather Stefanson has done some consulting on this issue.
Stefanson said she sympathizes with Manitobans living with Type 1 and 2 diabetes, and that the province is determining how to provide coverage.
She noted the situation is not unique to Manitoba, as many other provinces are also grappling with this issue.
Diabetes Canada said it recommends that Manitoba publicly fund advanced glucose monitoring devices for people living with diabetes who would benefit, which includes:
- CGM devices for people with Type 1 diabetes where there are demonstrated improved health outcomes; an
- Flash glucose monitoring devices for people with insulin-treated diabetes where there are demonstrated improved health outcomes.