“Thousands of British Columbians over the age of 25 have to go into debt, empty savings accounts or borrow from family members to cover the cost of these insulin pumps, because the provincial PharmaCare program will not pay for them after that age,” said New Democrat health spokesperson Judy Darcy.
“These are medically necessary devices, which is a determination made by a doctor,” Darcy said. “For many people with Type 1 diabetes they are a literal lifesaver. Not all diabetes patients require them, but for those who do, they are told they must foot the $7,000 bill themselves.”
Darcy met with media Friday with Stephanie Hendy, a 33-year-old exercise instructor who has had to replace her insulin pump seven times over the past eight years. Diagnosed with the condition at age 5, she says that the pump allows her to live an active life without having to inject herself five times daily.
Before switching to an insulin pump, Hendy had to be hospitalized four times due to hypoglycemic seizures.
“An insulin pump allows me to live a normal, active life,” said Hendy. “It allows me to keep my blood glucose at more consistent levels. It allows for instantaneous dosage adjustments.
“Not all Type 1 diabetes patients require these,” Hendy added, “but for my situation, my doctors have said this is a medically necessary device.”
Darcy said the Canadian Diabetes Association has recommended that this become part of provincial health coverage. Not only are they better for the health and well-being of the patients, they save the health system money by preventing other, more costly long-term complications of diabetes.
“Ontario has covered this for years and Alberta began paying for insulin pumps in 2013,” said Darcy. “This is about equal access to health care.
“Access to medically necessary procedures and instruments shouldn’t depend on your ability to pay.”