New technologies for people with type 1 diabetes (T1D) can significantly improve quality of life, but only a limited number of individuals have access to them. Such is the case with continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) systems in Canada, which have the power to revolutionize diabetes management, yet are not covered under provincial health plans. Those Canadians with T1D whose private or group insurance plan does not include CGM or who have no such insurance must go out-of-pocket.
Continuous glucose monitoring involves a thumb-sized, wearable sensor that tracks your blood sugar levels throughout the day and night, notifying you of highs and lows so you can regulate your glucose and insulin intake. Worn with or without an insulin pump, it leads to better glycemic control and lessens the risk of T1D complications.
Continuous glucose monitoring devices help improve self-management of T1D by regulating overall blood sugar, enabling people to spend more time in target range and relieving them of the anxiety that surrounds the disease, as well as aiding them to achieve excellence in exercise and in life. Furthermore, a recent JDRF-funded research study has shown that CGM leads to a reduction in neonatal health complications, and is a viable option for pregnant women with diabetes and their children.
In an interview with the Montreal Gazette, Dr. Preetha Krishnamoorthy, an endocrinologist at the Montreal Children’s Hospital, says CGM is a promising technology from which many children have benefitted.
“In children who have difficulty feeling whether their blood sugar levels are low or high, this can be really a wonderful technology for them,” she explains. “It is certainly something that can help in gaining control of their diabetes and is also fantastic for families to be able to know what the blood sugars are doing.”
At present, no province extends medical coverage for CGM systems. Continuous glucose monitoring has also not been a standard offering for most Canadian insurers. However, the Yukon recently announced a two-year pilot project to provide free CGM to residents under the age of 18, and a provincial advisory panel in Ontario recommended the public funding of CGM for people living with T1D who are “symptom unaware.” The Government of Quebec has also publicly stated that the reimbursement of CGM devices is under consideration.
Through advocacy initiatives and collaboration with The Government of Canada, JDRF is hopeful that CGM coverage will be accessible to all in the near future.
For more informative articles on health and type 1 diabetes, visit our JDRF Blog.