Type 1 diabetes

T1D technology costs are a financial and mental burden for adults

The cost of using diabetes devices is a key barrier to access and a major worry for young adults with type 1 diabetes, a new report shows.

A survey conducted by the JDRF of 1300 people with T1D and their carers has found that people with T1D face average out-of-pocket treatment costs of almost $260 per month, excluding the purchase costs of technology.

While some of the costs were due to medical fees and other general costs, the most expensive things were T1D technologies such as CGM ($98 per month) and insulin pumps ($46 per month).

Costs were a key barrier to access to technology, with 71% of those with T1D who did not own a CGM citing cost as the main reason, and a higher rate – 88% – among those aged between 30 – 49 years.

Of those who did have CGM, 54% said their T1D out of pocket costs were a large or very large burden.

Fears about financial burden were also linked to mental health and quality of life, particular among those in lower income groups, of whom 57% reported depression and 90% said their diabetes negatively impacted their quality of life.

More than 60% of patients said the financial demands of T1D forced them to miss out on other things such as holidays, buying household items and being able to build savings.

The report noted that a government program provides subsidised access to CGM to people under 21 with T1D, but after that people must pay full price for CGM and associated consumables such as sensors and transmitters unless they have a concession card.

JDRF Chief Executive Officer Mike Wilson said that everyone living with T1D should have access to a basic standard of care, which now included access to T1D technology.

“Getting access to diabetes technology in Australia is difficult and complicated … not everyone is eligible for subsided equipment and many can’t afford private health insurance or to buy the technology outright,” he said.

The JDRF is calling on government to continue eligibility for CGMs access when a person turns 21 and extend access to the Insulin Pump Program from 18 to 21.

“One of the ways we can begin to turn the tide of this inequity is for the expansion of existing program to those turning 21 who have been using CGM. We believe people who have accessed the technology through the program should continue to do so,” the report suggested.

The report also noted that people who could access an insulin pump did so through Private Health Insurance.

“This means in almost all cases, people with T1D have to pay high premiums as pumps are only available on the most expensive insurance products,” it said.

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