ADVOCATES are celebrating the commitment of both major political parties to provide subsidised access to continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) for all people living with type 1 diabetes, but diabetes educator Annette Parkes-Considine would like to see the support go one small step further.
Mrs Parkes-Considine, of Hunter Diabetes Centre in northern NSW, says it costs adults with type 1 diabetes thousands of dollars a year in out-of-pocket expenses to manage their condition.
She is calling for all adults living with type 1 diabetes to be issued with a health care concession card to allow them to access affordable, best evidenced-based practice to prevent "largely avoidable" complications.
"While the petitions have all been saying continuous glucose monitoring for all - and that is fantastic - that's only part of it," Mrs Parkes-Considine, who also has type 1 diabetes, said. "To access best evidenced-based practice, we are out of pocket at least $10,000 a year. And that's if we don't already have other complications."
She said many people with type 1 diabetes, an autoimmune condition that cannot be prevented and is not linked to modifiable lifestyle factors, required multiple medications - as well as insulin - to keep them healthy.
"Not to mention the extra visits to the GP, specialists, podiatrists, eye checks and all of those things that we have no funding for either," she said. "We use sunscreen to reduce the risk of melanoma and skin cancers.
"We are vaccinated to reduce the risk of measles, mumps, rubella and COVID.
"We know that to reduce the risk of diabetes-related complications we need to have optimal diabetes management and this comes at an out-of-pocket cost of close to $10,000 per year, for life, for those not entitled to a pension or health care card."
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As of July 1, subsidised access to CGM will save 71,000 people with type 1 diabetes between $3000 and $5000 a year - a "huge difference".
"Giving them a concession card would take that commitment one step further," she said. "These out of pocket expenses just add to an already stretched family budget. I have patients who feel guilty when they have to take money away from the family budget to manage their diabetes better. It breaks my heart, and I see it everyday."
Mrs Parkes-Considine has written to state and federal politicians to seek further support. A response from the NSW Health Minister said the National Diabetes Services Scheme subsidised diabetes-related products "such as syringes".
"We might use an insulin syringe if it's an emergency and we haven't got our pump or an insulin pen - but come on. Subsidising syringes? Whoop dee doo," she said.
The JDRF says the average annual cost of type 1 diabetes for individuals with no complications is about $9,000 a year.
"For one complication, that goes up to $32,000. Only 14 per cent of people with type 1 diabetes don't have at least one," she said. "It's in the government's best interest to keep us safe. Otherwise they'll be forking out a tonne of money for complications that are largely preventable with good management."
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