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Mom calls for better funding for B.C. families living with Type 1 diabetes

A Vancouver Island mom is calling for better funding for families living with diabetes.

Courtenay resident Lisa Christensen’s 11-year-old daughter Lillithe has Type 1 diabetes.

Christensen is advocating for provincial public access to Continuous Glucose Monitoring technology, or CGM. 

“CGM is vitally important for the proper treatment for kids and adults alike with Type 1 diabetes, so we would like to see the government cover them under Pharmacare,” she said. 

CGMs provide precise glucose readings, which helps reduce the risk of complications and emergencies. 

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Without coverage, CGM technology costs families around $300 per month.

Christensen says she and her families are one of the lucky ones: “We are very fortunate in that we get a grant from a charity, and they’ve been covering our Dexcom. Some people are not so lucky.”

Only the Government of Yukon has made CGM funding permanent to all Yukoners with T1D, without an age restriction. 

During COVID-19, medical experts may advise people with diabetes who routinely monitor their blood glucose, to continue to monitor more often.  

With this in mind, access to advanced glucose monitoring systems now may ensure patients better manage their diabetes by actively monitoring glucose levels day and night. 

Without access, some patients may experience an increase in finger sticks with the use of blood glucose meters. 

Currently, people with T1D in B.C. who cannot afford CGM technology or have a private insurance plan that does not cover the monitors, do not have publicly funded access to the medical and “quality of life” benefits that the technology provides.  

Lisa and Lillithe’s Story 

Diagnosed two and a half years ago, Lisa has tried multiple treatment options but ultimately, has had success managing her daughter’s condition with the help of CGM. 

In December 2019, Lillithe received temporary funding for one through a local charity called the Bears Essential Program.

This allows her daughter to have access to CGM technology, which provides real-time, glucose level readings every five minutes and predictive alerts, so Lisa can know where Lillithe’s glucose levels are at all times and intervene before a serious adverse event occurs.

“At this point in time, there are no real alternatives to it,” Christensen said. “This is the best you can get at the moment, and it is forever. You don’t grow out of diabetes.” 

In Christensen’s opinion, a CGM device should be the standard of care for all parents who have children living with diabetes.

But it’s not widely covered through private insurance or public funding in B.C., leaving many parents to pay thousands of dollars out-of-pocket.  

Christensen says this adds to the financial burden of parents with kids living with T1D: “The medications alone are a pretty bid hit to the finances and then adding in the monitoring technology is pretty much unaffordable for some people.”

She continues to share petitions asking the BC government to fund this technology under the BC Fair PharmaCare program in addition to sharing her story with local diabetes groups hoping to spark change. 

Christensen believes they are getting traction with the B.C. government.

“I believe that they are deeply considering it at the moment,” Christensen said. “They are trying to decide if they are going to go with this really good quality Continuous Glucose Monitor or if they might go for a flash glucose monitor which is one where you would have to actually read the device, it doesn’t send the data to your phone.”  

 T1D impacts approximately 26,000-52,000 British Columbians. 

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