Although I’ve only worn a Continuous Glucose Monitor for about 5 ½ of the almost 35 years I’ve had diabetes, I can’t imagine my life without it. And yet, for those on Medicare, that is a reality. Medicare does not approve coverage for CGMs. This fact both angers and scares me.
I’ll admit that when I was younger, I wasn’t always so diligent with my diabetes care. Once I got serious about tightening up the range of my blood glucose levels, I found myself becoming increasingly hypoglycemic unaware. Often times, I don’t feel any low symptoms until my blood sugars plummet into the 40s or less. It scares me to think what my life would be like if didn’t have my CGM to alert me to those symptomless lows. How dangerous would my lows become? Would ambulance rides and ER trips become the norm? How would my husband feel, going through every day knowing an emergency situation could pop up at any minute?
I honestly believe our quality of life would greatly decrease, and that is why advocating for CGM coverage is so important to me. I advocate for myself, having less than 20 years until I’m 65 years old and using Medicare. I also advocate because I worry that I could lose CGM coverage well before I turn 65. Private insurance companies take a look at what the Centers for Medicaid & Medicare Services cover and often follow suit. I’m fearful that my own insurance company may start denying coverage for me at any time, regardless of my age.
My advocacy efforts aren’t all about me, however. I also advocate for others, both friends and strangers aged 65 and over, who need CGM, but don’t have coverage. I imagine they have the same hypoglycemic unawareness and fears I described above, but unlike me worrying about the future, they are living a denied coverage reality right now. I empathize and am determined to do what I can to help them.
In my perfect dream world, we would all get the medical devices we need simply because it is medically necessary as prescribed my doctor, and because they improve our quality of life. But in the real world, I understand money talks and CGM coverage is expensive. But in my opinion, there is a return on investment because wearing a CGM can help us avoid ambulance rides and Emergency Room visits due to severe low blood sugars. This is a point I’ve made to my representatives in the House and Senate.
I’ve been a JDRF Advocacy Team Chair for several years and am happy to join the current JDRF Advocacy movement for CGM coverage. I hope you will join, too. Read up on this issue. Email your Senators. Sign the petition. Enroll as a JDRF Advocate. Keep an eye out for local JDRF meetings happening with your Senators to discuss this issue. And please, if you’ve found another way to advocate for CGM coverage, share it below in the comments.
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