Coverage for diabetes equipment for young people in Manitoba to begin this fall

The Manitoba government is making good on a budget pledge to cover the cost of medical equipment for young people with Type 1 diabetes. 

The province announced Tuesday it is moving ahead with two programs to pay for advanced glucose monitors and insulin pumps for people age 25 and younger.

Coverage for advanced glucose monitors will begin at the end of September, while coverage for insulin pumps will begin in November.

Currently, the province pays for insulin pumps only for those under 18. 

Health Minister Audrey Gordon said she recently took part in a finger prick challenge, in which she pricked her fingers at least eight times a day to squeeze out a drop of blood, to mimic what many diabetes patients go through to monitor their glucose levels. 

“It really allowed me to see first-hand what individuals suffering from diabetes are having to deal with on a daily basis,” she said. 

“These investments will greatly improve the quality of life for young Manitobans with diabetes.”

On average, insulin pumps can cost between $6,000 to $7,000, while advanced glucose monitors can cost $3,000 to $6,000 per year, Diabetes Canada says. 

Insulin pumps are an alternative to having multiple injections of insulin a day. Advanced glucose monitors allow continuous monitoring of blood sugar levels without having to draw blood. 

The province estimates that more than 1,000 Manitobans may seek coverage for advanced glucose monitors, while up to 200 Manitobans could get insulin pumps covered. 

The province is looking into expanding coverage for this equipment to those older than 25 as part of a long-term diabetes strategy, but Tuesday’s announcement was a good first step, Gordon said.