JDRF Campaign Targets US Healthcare Insurers in Type 1 Diabetes

Veronica Hackethal, MD

May 29, 2017

JDRF, formerly known as the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, has launched Coverage2Control, a new campaign to advocate for better insurance coverage for the estimated 1.25 million Americans living with type 1 diabetes.

The current battle waging over the Affordable Care Act in the United States means that many people with type 1 diabetes face major healthcare uncertainties, says JDRF, and concerns about treatment choices are a significant issue for many people with this life-threatening condition.

"Very often I hear stories of families struggling to access the type 1 diabetes treatments they need to live. Whether it's restrictions on insulin-pump choice or spiraling and unpredictable costs, we need a solution," Derek Rapp, president and CEO of JDRF, said in a press release.

"Insurance companies have a responsibility to help, and we urge them to provide the coverage our community needs to control diabetes and lead longer and healthier lives," he added.

Improving coverage may also decrease total healthcare costs by reducing expensive emergency department visits and diabetes-related complications. It may also be better for the economy: people who manage their chronic diseases better are often more productive at work.


Keep Costs Down, Cover All Tech, and Give Freedom of Choice

Examples of ways in which insurance companies are making life difficult for patients with type 1 diabetes include the decision made by United Healthcare — the nation's largest insurer — to enter into an exclusive agreement that now limits members to one brand of insulin pump. That forces people to pay higher out-of-network costs if they choose — or might do better on — a different type of pump.

Other insurers state that they do not plan to cover the artificial pancreas, an automated blood glucose monitoring and insulin-delivery device that may provide a breakthrough in diabetes management.

The Coverage2Control campaign seeks to improve diabetes control and decrease the burden of diabetes by asking insurance companies to work toward three overarching goals:

  • Keep out-of-pocket costs for insulin and diabetes management tools predictable and reasonable.

  • Give people the freedom to choose the right insulin pump for them.

  • Cover all lifesaving technology, including artificial pancreas systems.

For example, insurers can keep out-of-pocket expenses reasonable and consistent throughout the year by removing insulin and diabetes management tools from the deductible, moving them to tier 1 or tier 2 benefit levels, or providing cost-sharing as fixed-dollar copayments.

JDRF has an online petition that supporters of the campaign can sign.

Supporters can find more information on the Coverage2Control website and show their support on social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter using the hashtag #Coverage2Control and by following @JDRFAdvocacy.

"Diabetes is not a one-size-fits-all disease. People with type 1 diabetes should have access to the tools they need to control their disease at a reasonable cost, and we need insurance companies to make sure polices don't make it harder for people...to control their condition," stressed Aaron J. Kowalski, PhD, chief mission officer at JDRF.

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