07 July 2022
From Friday, all Australians with type one diabetes will save thousands of dollars on life-changing technology that gives them a glucose reading by simply using their phones.
About 128,000 people living with the condition, including 32,470 Victorians, can pocket more than $2000 each year thanks to a government subsidy that covers the cost of smartphone continuous glucose monitoring (CGM).
CGM technology cost users more than $3500 annually before the federal government committed to subsidising it during their election campaign earlier this year.
Partial subsidies have previously covered some costs for people under 21 years old and women planning on becoming pregnant, with the sensor costing $70 per week for people forced to pay out of pocket.
But now all Australians will pay just $30 per month, or about $360 each year.
Regular assessments throughout the day are crucial for people with diabetes, and these are normally obtained by pricking a finger to draw blood.
But the FreeStyle Libre 2, which is the most compact CGM model available in Australia, allows people to scan a small sensor on the back of their arm with their smartphone using the FreeStyle LibreLink app, without drawing blood.
It is also fitted with an alarm that alerts people when their glucose levels are too low or too high.
Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute Associate Professor Neale Cohen said the subsidy would bring relief to thousands of Australians who for years have been unable to afford the technology since its development in 2017.
“We’ve certainly been advocating for quite some time to get this on the NDSS (National Diabetes Services Scheme),” he said.
“Now we have a situation where we get readings every five minutes, including overnight. We can see fluctuations in levels, we can see patterns that we never knew before.”
Steve Leatham, of Traralgon, has lived with type one diabetes for more than 20 years and said the subsidy means he will no longer “feel guilty” about paying for technology that will keep his glucose levels on track more easily.
“I am looking forward to not spending quite so much on a CGM for everyday use,” he said.
“I was finger pricking five or six times a day. Because it’s (FreeStyle Libre 2) non-invasive and easy to use, I can easily use it 15 to 20 times a day just to make sure I am on track, without the need to draw blood.”
Patients’ data is stored on the app, which doctors and relatives can access if needed, which Mr Leatham said will eliminate the need to travel to metropolitan Melbourne for his appointments.
— originally published by the Herald Sun, 1 July 2022 (Author: Olivia Jenkins)
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