Insured and Screwed…

I was originally going to keep this blog around for racing and racing related events and products, but I just wanted to rant and thought what better place to do this than here… (LiveJournal anyone)?


So I was recently informed by Medtronic (the company I am currently with whose insulin pump I am using) that I was eligible for an upgrade to their new pump. Not just Medtronic, but every other company in the related field has made strides in recent years coming up with technology to control/take care of diabetes for both Type 1 & Type 2 diabetics alike. This new insulin pump system I am referring to is the Medtronic 530G with Enlite. Now what makes this pump amazing is that while fulfilling the capacities of a normal insulin pump, it also comes with a second site that monitors your blood sugar levels throughout the day. So while enjoying my activities (as most of you know, I run A LOT) if my blood sugars start to fall low, I will get an alarm, and the pump will then in and of itself start reducing the basal rate I have manually entered ( Basal Rate= insulin delivered in small increments throughout the day). And vice versa, if my insulin levels start to rise because of the type of nutrition I intake on my runs or any other activities, the basal rate will increase so my blood sugars will stay normal. So basically, an external pancreas for Type 1 diabetics.

I just wanted to give you that little backdrop to move onto this. What is pretty annoying is the fact that my insurance company & Medtronic are requesting 30 consecutive days of blood glucose results before I can get my new insulin pump. That’s fine, I have no problem with that. I actually test myself 8-10 times a day because of the amount of activity I am involved in and because I’ve learned from my past when I would pass out because I was hypoglycemic. Now, the problem I encountered. I was told I received the Carelink USB from Medtronic a long while ago from when I got my first insulin pump (back in 2007); now I’m usually good with keeping/stashing my stuff away, but I can’t find this thing anywhere, super annoying. So I’m talking to the rep who’s helping me get my new pump and she said that instead of buying a new carelink USB cable, I can use the new Bayer Contour Next blood glucose meter and use the USB it comes with to upload my results online. I thought perfect! I don’t have to buy a new cable and now I can use/ get used to the new meter I’m going to be using.

Each new blood glucose meter (at least the new ones I’ve gotten through my lifetime) come with a vial of test strips (about 25). So I started using those test strips for the Bayer blood glucose meter. When I went to the pharmacy to pick up my order that I had my doctor call in for more test strips, I was told the copay was $90.00. THE COPAY WAS $90.00!!!

I was paying $20.00 for my test strips with the OneTouch Ultra meter. I thought, no way; let me call my insurance company. They gave me the breakdown, there are different levels of strips & copay prices that go along with it. It did so happen that the strips for the Bayer Contour Next model was in fact in the highest copay region which is $90.00.

So then I called Bayer themselves, there are no other alternative strips you can use for that model. The Bayer Contour Next blood glucose meter will ONLY use the Bayer Contour Next test strips. And I’m trying to save as much money as possible for travel, racing & my gear. So I said nope!

Bayer does offer the Contour Choice program though, which deducts the price (to a max of $35.00) which would end up making me pay about $55.00 per refill.

So imagine,  I’m paying $35.00 more for something I used to pay $20.00. And as stated before, I test myself a lot, I couldn’t see the “pro” to sticking with this meter. So I’m back to using my OneTouch Ultra.

And then I proceeded to call my rep and tell her this (didn’t get to speak to her because apparently the people at Medtronic thinks Andrea sounds like Jeff and I was sent to a million different people rather then the one person I wanted to talk to). When I finally got to talk to someone about just buying the damn USB cable to connect my OneTouch meter to my computer, I was told it $59.99 & $7.00 for shipping.

ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! I can go buy a USB cable for $5.00 & for something that’s medical (and my insurance won’t cover) you’re going to charge me $60.00 bucks?! (The rep then proceeded to tell me it was $59.99, I wanted to throat punch her through the phone).

So now, I’m just going to wait till my next visit with my endocrinologist and when he uploads my blood glucose numbers have him do a 30 day consecutive upload and just print the numbers out right there so I can fax it over to Medtronic.

The point of this whole rant? I just find it unbelievable that with the progress and strides were making in any technological field (especially medical), how you’re going to screw the people who have to buy these products.

And some of you might say, but it’s a business. Well that business model is bull! How are you going to up charge everything! Yeah, you make this amazing technology that is supposed to help and potentially treat a certain disease, but then charge so much money that while you make them well physically, they end up being broke and have a slew of other problems to deal with.

Oh, and just in case you didn’t know, a single test strip (that thing I use 10 times a day), if you’re uninsured and you go to buy one, it basically adds up $1.00 per strip. So God forbid if I’m ever without insurance, I’d be spending $8-$10 a day just to make sure my blood sugars are normal. And that’s just with the current test strips I’m using. God knows how much it would be if I used the Contour Next strips.

Did this change anything? Did I make the world a better place? No. Of course not, but now that I have that off my chest, I feel like I am less likely to throat punch anyone who comes near me today.

I need to go run.

//End Rant.


UPDATE: (09/29/14)

Since the writing of this post some things have changed for the better!

A customer service rep actually read my post from Medtronic and they reached out to me before days end. I was busy at work so I couldn’t get to the call, but when I tried him back he answered and we talked for a bit.

Remember that carelink USB cable I was talking about? They shipped a free one to me. Apparently, the rep I had previously spoken to over the phone was confused and tried to charge me for something that should have been free.

In the end it worked out. I got my cable, I was able to upload my glucose numbers and I’m on the way to getting my new insulin pump!


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