Ain’t That A Bitch…

I usually try to keep calm in most situations. After all, that sort of lines up with the whole Zen thing, right? Most people, when hearing that I study Zen Buddhism, assume that I’m so calm BECAUSE I study Zen Buddhism. The unfortunate reality is that I study Zen Buddhism so that I CAN stay so calm. If you don’t grasp the difference between the two, don’t feel bad. Most people don’t.

That being said, there are times when my ability to acknowledge and manage my emotions and reactions is strained. Emotions are normal. Everyone has them and it would be foolish to think that one can suppress them. Nor should you. But it’s how you REACT to those emotions that defines you and controls who you are. I recently joked with a colleague that I really only have two emotions: anger and sarcasm. I was only joking, but I wasn’t really far off the mark.

As you may or may not know, I recently started a new job. I’m incredibly happy, the staff are great, my superiors are supportive and the hours can’t be beat. Especially after spending a decade and half doing shift work. And along WITH that job, came medical benefits and coverage. Splendid. I don’t think I need to tell you that medical benefits are almost as important to a Type-1 Diabetic than the salary is. Diabetic and pump supplies are expensive and frequently need to be refilled, making for a heavy financial strain should coverage not be in place.

Not my current pump, FYI

Pump therapy has been an absolute life-saver for me, and has improved my overall control and health in ways I wouldn’t have thought possible without hospitalization mixed with constant, hands-on monitoring. But here’s the thing: it’s expensive as shit! The pump unit alone costs somewhere in the neighbourhood of $7,000 and that’s BEFORE adding in the reservoirs, infusion sets and the actual insulin required by anyone with Type-1.

In fact, when you get right down to it, having Type-1 Diabetes is expensive all around. Between insulin, blood glucose testing equipment and blood strips, lancets, needles, continuous glucose monitoring and any other medications one may need to help or assist in the proper control of one’s Diabetes can not only get costly, it can easily total to over $1,000 per month.

In Canada, we’re reasonably lucky that we have the health care system that we do. Although most people fail to realize that we technically still pay for that health care through the tax system and such. But for the most part, most things are covered, such as yearly eye exams. Under my Provincial health plan, I get a yearly eye exam at no cost. But prescriptions and pump supplies fall under a different batch of bullshit, which is where the need for medical coverage comes in.

When I started my new job last April, I received my coverage card about a month later. I walked into my pharmacy and ordered my required prescriptions and equipment and was pleased to see that everything was covered and paid for. Such as it should be. Diabetes isn’t going anywhere, and neither are the inherent costs of keeping myself alive. If one is provided with medical coverage, then PROVIDE the medical coverage, right? Apparently, not…

Last week, I went into the pharmacy and ordered reservoirs and infusion sets for my pump. Bearing in mind that this equipment comes in at about $400 and I go through a box of each a month, the cost can climb rather quickly. So imagine my surprise when the pharmacy technician walked up to the till and advised me that I had hit my “maximum” and I would have to pay the cost out-of-pocket. Excuse me? What the fuck???

I reached out to my insurance company requesting an explanation since I had been all over my online account and couldn’t find any reference to a maximum, but like most insurance providers, they were slow to respond. When they finally did, they responded with a single sentence reply that indicated that I was only entitled to $1,000 per calendar year for Diabetes equipment.

What does this mean? Is that $1,000 ONLY for the tangible equipment, or doe this apply to insulin and test strips as well? Am I now on the hook for the remainder of the year? Is there a way for me to potentially pay a monthly premium and get an increased limit? You gotta love when an insurance company gives you a generic, one-sentence reply that, although answers the base question, provides no clarity whatsoever.

I recognize that many and perhaps most people don’t have the luxury of medical insurance and often find themselves struggling from month to month in order to obtain the life-saving therapies needed to maintain control over Diabetes. For this reason, I’m extremely grateful for the resources and availability of the things I DO have. But now that life has taken a positive turn and things are looking up, I’m disappointed to find that I now have to make some very important life decisions as they relate to Diabetes. Do I come off pump therapy? Do I eliminate CGM to save on costs?

I shudder to consider going back to a basic version of injection therapy and blood sugar testing. I remember the increased difficulties I faced with my A1C’s and overall health. Some provinces have a 100% coverage for Diabetes in their health plans. I kind of wish Saskatchewan had the same. I somehow find it difficult to understand how this insurance company could actually believe that $1,000 is adequate to cover an entire calendar year of supplies. I guess I’m grateful that it all starts over in just over two months. At least I’ll have a few months of coverage to sort it out in 2022. Just another example of how Diabetes can throw a wrench in life. Not only in a physical and medical way, but a financial one, as well. ☯️

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Shawn

I am a practitioner of the martial arts and student of the Buddhist faith. I have been a Type 1 Diabetic since I was 4 years old and have been fighting the uphill battle it includes ever since. I enjoy fitness and health and looking for new ways to improve both, as well as examining the many questions of life. Although I have no formal medical training, I have amassed a wealth of knowledge regarding health, Diabetes, martial arts as well as Buddhism and philosophy. My goal is to share this information with the world, and perhaps provide some sarcastic humour along the way. Welcome!

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