Diabetes Apps, COBRA, Diabetic Ear Buds and More!


My mind is jumping around a bit this morning — I woke up with a Phil Collins song in my head (never a good sign) and immediately had to try to figure out the opening piano section of “Against All Odds.” (D minor to G major works well, in case you were wondering.) And then I found all these interesting things about diabetes to write about. Such as:

-Amy at DiabetesMine has a great piece up about a would-be glucometer that uses temperature variations in your ear to measure blood glucose levels. Pretty cool, right? Problem is that despite the fact that the meter is non-invasive, accurate, and much cheaper than test strips (therein might lie the problem), no-one wants to fund it.

-A friend of mine who’s a screenwriter in LA, has been asking me about the feasibility of a plot point that relies on the idea of using a glucometer built into a cellular phone. I told him that it sounded cool and I’m sure it’d eventually happen, but I didn’t know of anything like it yet. And then just in the past two weeks I’ve seen the winning entry for a new technology challenge, also put on by DiabetesMine, that uses a glucometer built around a cell phone — and then I just got this press release about a study showing that yes, parents of kids with diabetes would love it if such a thing were to exist. (I’d dare say we’d all love it — Apple, please take note.)

Yesterday I wrote a bit about Congress and the effects the proposed health care legislation might have on people with diabetes (still no word on whether there’d be a limit on premiums for people with preexisting conditions — does anyone know whether that’s addressed?). I should say straight off that I am very ambivalent about the proposed plans and am far from supportive of any of the current versions being debated. But, with that said, I thought this column by Robert Steinback in the St. Petersburg Times was interesting. He writes about the cost of living with Type 1 diabetes, and what’s going to happen to him when his COBRA insurance benefits run out. (Still unemployed, the fact that he has diabetes means he’s automatically excluded from group plans.) As he writes:

I worked for 24 years for the Miami Herald. We parted ways in July 2008 during a staff-reduction effort. I have been unable to find work since.
I continued my insurance coverage under COBRA, paying the entire $579 monthly premium.

Aetna has notified me that when my COBRA eligibility expires, it will not insure me for any price. Why not? The company didn’t say, but the answer is obvious: my “pre-existing condition” isn’t profitable. I wear a $5,000 insulin pump — the third one insurance has paid for since 1999. The pump’s insulin-delivery kits, which must be changed every three days, cost $199 a month at market rates; insurance pays the full cost now. The insulin itself costs $338 a month (my current co-payment is $54). The test strips used in my blood-glucose testing monitor cost more than $200 a month over the counter (my current co-payment is $48).

I have had expensive laser eye treatments to stanch the blood leakage associated with diabetic retinopathy. The treatments have been successful; my eye health is stable and my vision perfect — but there is always a chance I will need further treatments.

Additionally, I’m sure Aetna has tables predicting my chances of organ deterioration or other complications and what that will cost. No matter how you examine it, I’m a bad bet for profit-based health care.

I don’t necessarily agree with the rest of what he says — but I can personally empathize with his condition. I’m a freelancer by choice and am on my husband’s insurance plan. Were he to lose his job, I would be left scrambling. I did figure out a way around this for myself — California is one of several states that has a “major risk medical insurance program” (affectionally known as Mr. Mip) that, in CA’s case, is subsidized by the tobacco tax. It allows people with preexisting conditions to buy into a group plan. Granted, it wasn’t cheap — if I were still on it, my premiums would be close to $600 a month. But that’s less than I’d be paying without insurance, Picture 1and it had between a $0 and $500 deductible — far nicer than the $6,000 (of which I pay $1,200) in my current plan. I’d love to see similar efforts in other states as well.

-Lastly, yesterday I forgot to include a link to one of my favorite parodies in Slate: Barack Obama’s Facebook Feed.This one’s from last May so it’s a bit dated, but the message from Kim Jong Il (not to mention Joe Biden) still gets me every time.

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Barbara Feder Ostrov
12 years ago

ReportingonHealth.org has an interview with Robert Steinback at http://bit.ly/8cfz9N

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