Today’s prompt is: “Most people who live with a chronic illness end up with a lot of experience when it comes to dealing with healthcare. How would you improve or change your healthcare experience? What would you like to see happening during medical visits with your healthcare team? How about when dealing with your health insurance companies? What’s your Healthcare Wish List or Biggest Frustration? Today is the day to share it all!”
I feel very fortunate that I have had good experiences in regards to my healthcare team. I was diagnosed by my pediatrician, and for 8 years, he was the only doctor I saw for my diabetes. Now that I am an adult, it is time to move away from seeing a pediatrician. So this past month, I saw an endocrinologist for the first time. She was very surprised that I had such a detailed diabetes regimen and had never seen an endocrinologist before. Overall, I don’t really have any complaints about this part of my healthcare experience.
What I do have complaints about and is my biggest frustration is insurance companies. I am very fortunate to have the health insurance that I have; however, I feel there is much room for improvement. For one thing, I have been prescribed and taking the same insulin brand for 8 years. The insurance company has a better deal with this brand’s competitor and attempts to get me to switch. Every year, I have to battle the insurance company to cover the insulin brand that I have used for 8 years and has brought me to my most recent and lowest A1C of 6.6.
What upsets me the most is that the insurance company tries to dictate what medications and supplies I use. This should not be the insurance company’s decision. Any decisions about medications and supplies should be made between my doctor and me. When a prescription is written by the doctor, it should be filled and covered by insurance as written. I hate how it is all about MONEY. I know insurance companies are businesses and need to make profits, but it frustrates me that money seems to come before patients.
This brings me to my next complaint: the recent announcement that starting July 1, 2016, United Healthcare has chosen the Medtronic insulin pump as their preferred provider. In short, this means that United Healthcare will only cover the Medtronic insulin pump (more information is available here). I am very angry about this announcement. I am not on a pump but have been debating about possibly switching from multiple daily injections to an insulin pump. If and when I make the decision to switch, I will have no choice in which insulin pump I receive.
There are four main insulin pump brands on the market. Each is different and has various pros and cons. The OmniPod is the only tubeless pump. Tandem T-Slim is the only touch screen pump. Then there is Medtronic and Animas. My top choices were OmniPod (I like the idea of not having tubing that can be pulled, especially with working as a nursing assistant/nurse) and the T-Slim, which is the one I would probably end up picking because I love the user-friendly touch screen. But what I want doesn’t really matter because it won’t be my decision. It will be my insurance company’s decision to tell me that Medtronic is the best pump for me.
My final frustration is how expensive the insulin and diabetes supplies are. As someone who does multiple daily injections my supply list includes: short-acting insulin pens, long-acting insulin pens, pen needle tips, alcohol swabs, blood glucose monitor, test strips, lancets, ketone strips, glucagon…I think that about covers the list! I also have a continuous blood glucose monitor (Dexcom), which had a large upfront cost for the system and monthly costs for sensors. Then there are the doctor visits every 3 months and blood tests, annual dilated eye exam. Even though I just complained about insurance, thank goodness for it! One of my biggest fears is how I am going to be able to afford all of this once I am on my own. It is sad how much it costs to manage diabetes and just stay alive.