(BPT) - The impact of COVID-19 has changed many aspects of our everyday lives, particularly for those living with a chronic condition like diabetes. Even under normal circumstances, managing diabetes can be difficult, but with the added challenges of the pandemic, access to medical care, medications, and other diabetes products has become increasingly difficult for many.
Living with diabetes is expensive. The average yearly cost to manage the condition is almost $10,000, and data show that two in five Americans living with diabetes experience financial hardship from medical bills – even when properly insured. Since the pandemic began, as many as 18% of Americans with diabetes have faced unemployment, making the ability to afford medication and medical care an even greater challenge. As a result, many people living with diabetes were not adhering to their diabetes management regimens, which may jeopardize their overall health, especially considering this community is at risk of developing more serious complications from the virus. In fact, a study from earlier this summer found that one in four people with diabetes have started skipping medication doses and testing their glucose less often to extend their supplies.
The pandemic is not only impacting finances, it is also changing the way healthcare is delivered. There has been a greater acceptance of telehealth and remote monitoring for chronic conditions like diabetes from both patients and the health care industry – underscoring the important role that diabetes technology can play.
One example of a technology that is helping physicians monitor their patients remotely is integrated continuous glucose monitors (iCGMs) like Abbott's FreeStyle Libre 2 system, which features a small sensor worn on the back of the upper arm for up to 14 days and accurately measures glucose every minute, eliminating the need for fingersticks. With a one-second scan using a handheld reader, adults and children ages four and up can see their real-time glucose reading, an eight-hour history of glucose data and a trend arrow showing where their levels are heading. These actionable insights allow people with diabetes and their physicians to make more informed decisions about treatments, exercise and nutrition, even when in-person visits aren’t possible.
“My continuous glucose monitor has greatly improved my quality of life. I no longer need to do multiple, painful fingersticks a day and can see which direction my glucose levels are trending, which makes managing my diabetes so much easier,” said Kendall Kidder-Goshorn, who has been living with type 1 diabetes for 26 years. “When I’m using the FreeStyle Libre 2, I spend less time worrying about my glucose levels, so CGM technology is directly responsible for me being the healthiest I’ve been in years. I think every person living with diabetes should have access to revolutionary technologies like CGMs, so they can be their healthiest self, too.”
As CGMs have shown evidence to be effective at helping people with diabetes better manage their condition and improve health outcomes, they are being more widely embraced. For instance, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) now provides reimbursement for the FreeStyle Libre 2 system and recently gave healthcare professionals more flexibility to prescribe CGMs during the pandemic. While this marks significant progress, many people with diabetes still can't access CGMs due to insurance restrictions or high-deductible costs and co-pays.
“From the start, Abbott set out to make our FreeStyle Libre portfolio available to as many people living with diabetes as possible. That's why we priced it 70% lower than other CGMs, without sacrificing performance and accuracy," said Mahmood Kazemi, M.D., chief medical officer, Diabetes Care, Abbott. "We're working to ensure all people living with diabetes have access to the life-changing benefits of our technology, all at a fraction of the cost of other available CGMs."
Life with diabetes can be stressful enough, but with access to breakthrough technology like CGMs, daily care can be simpler to manage, even during a pandemic. Talk to your doctor for information about how you could manage your diabetes more effectively and affordably or visit https://www.freestylelibre.us/ or https://www.freestylelibre.us/myfreestyle.html to learn more.
 The Cost of Diabetes. (2018, May 1). Retrieved August 12, 2020, from https://www.diabetes.org/resources/statistics/cost-diabetes
 Burden and Consequences of Financial Hardship From Medical Bills Among Nonelderly Adults With Diabetes Mellitus in the United States (2020, February 6). Retrieved August 12, 2020, from https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/10.1161/CIRCOUTCOMES.119.006139
 New Data Highlights Severe Health and Economic Impact of Pandemic on Millions Living with Diabetes. (2020, July 29). Retrieved August 05, 2020, from https://www.diabetes.org/newsroom/press-releases/2020/new-data-highlights-severe-health-and-economic-impact-of-pandemic-on-millions-living-with-diabetes
 Fingersticks are required if your glucose alarms and readings do not match symptoms or when you see Check Blood
 Patients must meet Medicare eligibility coverage criteria. Local Coverage Determination: Glucose Monitors (L33822), January 2020.
 For FreeStyle Libre portfolio Indications and Important Safety Information: https://www.freestylelibre.us/safety-information.html