s the year comes to a close, it is a good time to reflect on how fortunate we are to have the access to health care for patients with type 1 diabetes that we have in the United States. We are always asking for more, and there is certainly room for improvement. However, when I see patients both in and out of the hospital, I can always find ways to help them obtain the insulin they need, to provide them with educational tools and visits, and to find affordable glucose strips for them to check on the overall results of their diabetes management plan.
Between access through government insurance programs, private insurance, health care clinics, and patient assistance programs via pharmaceutical companies and the hospital foundation, there always appears to be a way to get diabetes care.
In addition, most of the population with type 1 diabetes has access to state of the art insulin pumps, and coverage for continuous glucose monitors appears to be just around the horizon.
...there always appears to be a way to get diabetes care.
Many countries in the world have limited access to insulin, or the only options are mixed or NPH and regular. Syringes are given out oner per week, monitoring strips one per day, if at all, and insulin pumps are unheard of. I have chosen to spend several weeks of every year volunteering internationally and always return feeling blessed for what we DO have to offer our patients. People still die from diabetic ketoacidosis in our country, but lack of diagnosis of type 1 diabetes is uncommon.
I was fortunate to be able to attend the International Diabetes Federation meeting in Vancouver, BC this year, along with the follow-up Diabetes Education Camping Association (DECA) meeting. I attended all the type 1 diabetes lectures that I could, and was again saddened at the lack of availability of insulin, glucose testing supplies, and even the high numbers of missed diagnoses of type 1 diabetes resulting in death in a variety of countries worldwide. Children with type 1 diabetes in this country have a multitude of diabetes camps to choose from, and generally full scholarships are available for those who cannot afford to go on their own. In many countries around the world, camps are sparse or non-existent.
The work is not done, and continued efforts to provide access to insulins and testing supplies are important. As the year ends, it is good to be grateful for all the resources we have to educate and take care of our patients with diabetes, to be thankful for the education our providers have to be able to diagnose diabetes at the onset of the disease, and to be able to offer a variety of treatment choices from insulin syringes, to pens and pumps.
Happy holidays to all of you!
About the Author:
Carla Cox is a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator. She has been a certified diabetes educator for over 15 years, and has served as an assistant adjunct professor for 14 years, teaching in areas of sports nutrition and exercise physiology.