The provincial government has announced that it is expanding insulin pump coverage to all British Columbians who require them, regardless of age.
“Up to now, many people over 25 years old, who rely on an insulin pump to manage their chronic disease, have been forced to make the difficult choice between purchasing this device for their health, or foregoing it due to cost,” Minister of Health Adrian Dix said.
“Going forward, they won’t be put in this position. Following through on a pledge made by Premier John Horgan, the provincial government is removing the age restriction for insulin pump coverage.”
The insulin pump program was introduced in 2008 and provided coverage to children up to the age of 18. The age restriction was expanded in 2014 to include those living with Type 1 Diabetes, or other forms of diabetes requiring insulin that meet specific criteria, up to the age of 25.
The change in coverage under PharmaCare will take effect on July 3, 2018. The government said B.C. will now be one of three provinces to cover insulin pumps for people living with diabetes requiring one, regardless of age. Approximately 485,000 British Columbians live with diabetes and it is estimated 830 people over 25 years of age will benefit from the expansion. Insulin pumps can range in cost from $6,000 to $7,000 and require replacing approximately every five years.
The anticipated cost of expanding insulin pump coverage to all eligible British Columbians, no matter their age, will be approximately $15 million over three years. Patients will have to meet with their diabetes physician specialist to determine whether they meet the eligibility criteria for an insulin pump.
Dix said insulin pumps allow people with diabetes better manage their condition, improve their quality of life and well-being and prevent serious secondary conditions including cardiovascular disease and nerve damage. Insulin pumps are not required for all individuals with diabetes.
PharmaCare also covers a number of oral medications and a range of insulin products, including insulin vials, cartridges, insulin pens and other diabetic supplies, including needles, syringes and blood-glucose test strips.