Buying an Insulin Pump

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I’m going to buy an insulin pump.  Yesterday I just said “yes” on the phone and I received a UPS tracking number.

Welcome to real adulthood.  I am 36 years old and this is my first time spending $4000 (out of pocket) on a piece of durable medical equipment.

There are feelings about this.   When I first got diagnosed with LADA diabetes, my first endocrinologist said that I was a good candidate for an insulin pump.  That was a few years ago.   I was definitely not ready for buy an insulin pump then.  Instead, I did MDI (Multiple Daily Injections) which some studies say it as effective at controlling blood glucose, and in my case, definitely a cheaper option.

Why did I buy an insulin pump?

I’ve been resistant to the idea for awhile, but after a lot of research and thinking, I decided that I really want to use an insulin pump, even though it is going to cost me more money.  I have very personal reasons….

  1. Being able to see my blood glucose on the freestyle libre CGM has given me a ton of feedback, and I can see there there are limitations with injections that I wouldn’t have with an insulin pump.  Insulin pump will allow for multiple basal rates and allow for more fine tuned control.
  2. I want to take longer bike rides.  Right now, if I bike ride for 20 minutes, I have to eat candy or drink juice to prevent low blood glucose.  If I wanted to bike ride for 1 hour or longer, I’d have to either not give myself insulin earlier in the day (which would cause high blood glucose for a time period up until the bike ride), or eat extra food just because I want to exercise.  With an insulin pump, I can suspend delivery of the insulin during exercise, which isn’t an option when taking long lasting insulin.
  3. Minimize risk.  Getting the wrong amount of insulin can kill you.  I want to use the best medical technology out there to protect myself, so that I don’t end up in the hospital or dead!  I want alerts to notify me of high and low blood glucose.  I want to use the best technology to treat my condition because I want to maintain my good health.  Yes, I have diabetes, but I am not “unhealthy.”  I take care of myself.  Keeping my glucose in range minimizes both short term and long term risks.
  4. The convenience of being able to adjust my blood sugar without giving myself a shot.  I can interact with my insulin pump anywhere, anytime.  I don’t have to lift up my shirt, take out a needle, and inject myself.  When I’m alone at home, who cares about that.  But eating is a social activity and this will make it easier to give myself the insulin when eating out with friends, or any other time I eat in public.

What does an insulin pump cost??

I wish prices for medical equipment and all health related costs were transparent.  The cost depends on your insurance company and your specific health insurance plan.

I personally am located in the USA and I have a “very good” Aetna PPO health care plan with a $2000 deductible.  I only spent $800 toward my deductible this year.  So my out of pocket expense includes the full amount up to the deductible and then a percentage of the costs after meeting my deductible.

I am buying the Medtronic 670G Insulin Pump and CGM.  It comes with a 4 month starter kit and personal training is included.  The Medtronic trainer works out of my doctor’s office and I have 3 appointments scheduled with her.  My out of cost expense is going to be right around $4000.  If I pay promptly, they will give me a 10% discount off of that.  They also offer a payment plan.  And they do offer financial assistance.

I actually think this is a reasonable price for top of the line medical equipment like this.  But it’s A LOT of money and I am very fortunate that I have a way to afford this.

The pump comes with a 4 year warranty and I’ve heard that sometimes they last beyond the 4 years. Also the transmitter comes with a 1 year warranty and may work beyond that time period as well (requires battery replacement).  So part of why I feel comfortable buying this now is that this is a long term decision for me.  LADA is a progressive form of diabetes.  It’s likely that I will need more insulin as my pancreas reduces the amount of insulin it is able to make.  If there is a cure or miraculous event and my pancreas recovers, I will celebrate and not cry over having spent this money on an insulin pump…

I feel very privileged to be able to buy the best technology out there.  I’m glad to be living in this country at this time in history.

Ongoing Insulin Pump Supply Costs…

To continue to be completely transparent, this adventure comes with ongoing costs.  A 3 month supply of the Medtronic CGM Guardian sensors is $962.  This is much higher than what I pay for the Freestyle Libre (it’s about $77/month), but the Libre doesn’t interface with the Medtronic Insulin pump.  It also sounds like it’ll be $520 every 3 months for the other needed supplies like infusion sets and something else I’m forgetting out.  My insurance will pay 50% of the cost once I meet my $2000 deductible.

Related Links

What are insulin pumps?  From the name of the device, some people may think it’s something that is inserted into the body surgically, but it’s not!  The one I’m getting is an electronic device the size of a cellphone that has a small tube attached to it that delivers the insulin to me, through a catheter that’s placed in the fatty tissue just under the skin.

What is insulin pump therapy?  This is an article from Medtronic that shows an example of how an insulin pump can be worn too.

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