Ask Your Pharmacist

November 29, 2023
Q:

I started using an insulin pump in the spring and I am finding the supplies more expensive than I expected. Are there any programs available to help cover the cost?

A:

An insulin pump is a small electronic device that continuously delivers a small amount of insulin to the body. The pump can be turned up to deliver more insulin during mealtimes and can be turned down to deliver less insulin during times of physical activity. The continuous delivery of insulin eliminates the need for multiple daily insulin injections and offers more freedom and flexibility for people with diabetes to eat, sleep and exercise whenever they please.

The New Brunswick Insulin Pump Program (NBIPP) had previously provided financial aid for insulin pumps and pump supplies for people with Type 1 diabetes who were 25 years of age or younger. This summer the age restriction was removed to allow all medically eligible New Brunswickers living with Type 1 diabetes to apply for funding, greatly increasing the accessibility and the affordability of these devices. Last month, the program was expanded again, to include coverage for continuous glucose monitors for Type 1 diabetics who are eligible for insulin pumps and for Type 2 diabetics who use three or more insulin injections per day.

Continuous glucose monitors are worn on the skin and estimate the amount of sugar circulating in the bloodstream every few minutes. This allows you to see your blood sugar levels throughout the entire day and night instead of only the point in time when you checked your blood sugar by doing a finger prick test. Their use is associated with increasing the amount of time that blood sugar levels are within the target range, with decreasing low blood sugar level emergencies and with significantly reducing the number of finger prick tests required.

To apply for the program, you must have a valid NB Medicare card and you need to re-apply annually to renew your coverage. For the insulin pumps, a confirmation of medical eligibility form must be completed by a diabetes specialist such as an endocrinologist, internal medicine physician or a pediatrician and submitted directly to the NBIPP office. For the continuous glucose monitors your family physician or nurse practitioner may complete this portion of the form for you. These forms also include a list of which devices and operating supplies are covered by the program and you must select which ones you are applying for. Only products from these approved vendor lists will be considered for coverage.

The second form required is an application for coverage form which you can complete on your own and submit along with any supporting documents to the NBIPP office. The form collects information on your current insurance coverage, if applicable, total household income and household size. This information is used to determine how much funding will be offered and what costs will be left to pay out of pocket.

Once an application has been approved, you will receive all your devices and supplies directly from the vendor who sells the products. If you have not been approved for 100% coverage, then the remaining amount owing will be paid directly to the vendor.

To learn more information about the program you can contact the program’s administrator toll-free at 1-855-655-5525 or by email at NBIPP-PPINB@gnb.ca.

You can also access application forms and the approved vendors list through the government webpage here. At the bottom of the article are the links for all the forms and a link to Frequently Asked Questions.

Erin Thompson (BSc, BScPharm) is a graduate of Dalhousie University and a community pharmacist practicing at Shoppers Drug Mart in Quispamsis N.B. Her opinions expressed in this newspaper are published for educational and informational purposes only, and are not intended as a diagnosis, treatment or as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Send your questions to AskYourNBPharmacist@gmail.com.

The Ask Your Pharmacist column appears in New Brunswick newspapers for educational and informational purposes only. These opinions are not intended as a diagnosis, treatment or as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. If you have a question you’d like to see answered, you can send it to AskYourNBPharmacist@gmail.com