The online diabetes community, led by Gina Capone, has dubbed today a special day to lobby for insurance coverage of new continuous glucose monitoring systems. The idea is that we all raise our voices, by talking openly about how important CGMS is to our health, whether it's simply for preventing lows at the gym or for dodging fatal heart attacks and strokes.
As most of you know, CGM systems are new to the market and still in early stages. I've been lucky enough myself to try out the first two commercially available, one from DexCom and one from Medtronic (the Guardian). I'm looking forward to testing the third system recently approved by the FDA, the Navigator from Abbott Diabetes.
Because these systems are still considerably difficult to use, need a lot of calibration and/or warm-up time, and are not nearly as accurate as fingerstick testing, there's been a lot of hot debate about how hard we as the patient community should push for insurance reimbursement. The JDRF has a big campaign going, and the CEO of Diabetech has even set up an informational site called CGMS Central. Some significant progress has already been made, with Aetna and Wellpoint stepping up to the plate.
Manny from TuDiabetes recently created this video exploring the frustration of those who want and need CGM systems the most.
From my vantage point, I'm a little torn: My personal experience says CGM systems are not (yet) the panacea of diabetes care you might imagine. I've actually tried three systems if you count the early DexCom Three version, and learned the hard way that it was a good thing I hadn't lobbied too hard for insurance coverage of a system I later chose not to use, for all the reasons mentioned above. I know there's a limit to how many devices I can lobby my insurance for, so I want to pick my battles carefully.
NEWSFLASH: FDA Clears Dexcom Share Direct
Dexcom gets regulatory approval of its 'on-the-go' mobile apps for CGM data-sharing.
State of the Union: It's Time to Cure Diabetes
President launching new precision medicine initiative to better treat, cure diseases like diabetes.
'Robotic Pancreas' Appears On American Idol
Carlos Santana's nephew Adam Lasher shows off Dexcom G4 during live performance.
Thus, I can see how insurance companies aren't quite ready to plunge into ubiquitous coverage for CGM devices just yet.
On the other hand, two big points:
1) There are plenty of patients with hypoglycemic unawareness or severely fluctuating glucose levels who could really use this technology for a quality of life improvement NOW.
2) CGM is improving and on its way to becoming mainstream, so if we EVER want the insurance companies to cover it, we probably do need to start lobbying immediately. We don't want to give them any reason to back off supporting the best tools available for diabetes care.
Assuming today's goal is to catch the attention of people not already knee-deep in the CGMS campaign, I'm going to direct you all to find out more about CGM systems and how the JDRF views this as the critical bridge to an eventual Artificial Pancreas HERE.
And keep your eyes peeled for more information here at DiabetesMine; my review unit of the new Navigator is due to be delivered next week. I'm hoping this is going to be the one to solidify CGM's place in the permanent D-care toolkit.