Luxury items – when I say it, what do you think of?
Hermès scarf? Dior handbag? Diamond jewellery? Or, if you’re a poor millennial like me, smashed avocado on toast with a poached egg and extra bacon?
Do you think of a machine that constantly pumps insulin into your body and keeps you alive?
Didn’t think so.
Doing my daily scroll through social media, I was alerted to this private health insurance reform – which I know has been coming for a while, but still…to see that it’s actually being proposed and could happen terrifies me (shout out to Diabetes Australia for campaigning against it already).
Basically, private health insurance providers want to universally move pump coverage to the highest level of cover. Currently, with most providers, you can get it on the lowest level, so people like me who are a) not made of money and b) rarely use PHI for anything other than diabetes can still do luxurious things like buy food and pay rent. OH THE OPULENCE!
However, with this possible reform the monthly cost of having diabetes skyrockets. Usually, I can justify paying PHI because it works out cheaper than buying a pump outright (they start from around $8000 AUD…). If this goes through, I honestly don’t know what I’ll do. My friends with diabetes feel the same – we already budget like crazy paying for diabetes-related things, and many of us have other conditions that like to slowly suck money from us. Different medications, healthcare appointments, supplies, screenings…we’re so lucky to have state healthcare plans and subsidised medication, yet the money still needs to come from somewhere, and when there isn’t enough of it, we make sacrifices that aren’t that healthy. For example, when I was a student I would wear my pump sites way longer than I should have, because they’re EXPENSIVE and I had to pay for inconvenient things like university textbooks, groceries, petrol…you know, all those things you can do without! To be real, I still do that…returning home in January to a proper wage is the first time I’ll be able to actually abide by the ‘change your site every three days’ rule. OH THE LAVISHNESS!
A pump is not a luxury. Using a pump is not like upgrading to the latest iPhone, or treating yourself to the newest tablet or FitBit. A pump is a lifeline – it keeps us alive whilst letting us live our lives to the fullest. It’s important to note that a pump is not an ‘upgrade’ from MDI (multiple daily injections)…it’s another way to manage what is a complicated and life-threatening condition. It’s a management choice that people with diabetes have a right to make. By upping the level of cover needed to access a pump, you’re taking away this option from so many more people. This is about choice, not people with diabetes being greedy or wanting the taxpayers to fund their ‘luxurious’ device. If Medtronic suddenly started making a pump that sent texts and that I could also play Candy Crush on…then maybe you’d have an argument (I’d buy one). But the fact of the matter is that people living with diabetes deserve a choice about how to best act as their own pancreas. For some people, that’s syringes and BGL pricks, for others, it’s a pump, or a CGM, or a little bit of everything.
Pumps are already inaccessible to most of the world population with diabetes – there are so many people who can’t even access INSULIN (change that here). Pumps also remain inaccessible to the people living in Australia who are unfortunately not able to pay for any type of private health insurance. Yet, by having pumps on the basic level , it means that most people ARE able to scrape that money together every month, and we are able to help out those who can’t (let’s be real, we should be able to provide everyone with a pump if they want one, but that’s a whole other blog post). However, if these reforms go through and pumps rise to a ‘gold’ level of care, there are going to be a HELL of a lot more people who all of a sudden need a helping hand. Where will that hand come from? If you’ve taken out at least half of your pump users with a single reform, I have a feeling that there’s not going to be a lot of loan pumps or payment plans to go around.
People with diabetes/parents of children with diabetes should never have to make the decision between health and money. For me, no pump means that I can’t do my job to my fullest potential. Teaching is different (and exhausting) every day, and I need a pump to adapt to that. Kids with diabetes are growing and changing every day, and often need pumps to help them regulate their BGLs as they tackle the tricky business of growing up. Hell, EVERYONE needs the option to have a pump if they need it, to tackle the tricky business of life!
People with diabetes at all stages of life deserve and need the choice to use an insulin pump – it’s not a luxury. It’s a fucking machine attached to my body – how many designers do you see marketing a beeping insulin delivery device that you can never take off? Inserting a cannula into my body every three days isn’t a luxury. Being attached to a machine isn’t a luxury. Ripping a site out of my body at the most inopportune time is not a luxury. Having this stupid disease is not a goddamn luxury.
Private health insurers, talk to your stakeholders and get a clue.
Our choice should not be taken away because we can’t afford to have one.