Thousands are locked out of key diabetes technologies because of the under-21 age limit

Diabetics refuse to use life-saving technology when they turn 21 HSE set an age limit for refunds.

One of the largest polls ever conducted, due out next week, has found sufferers are being paralyzed by the cost of using the technology.

According to the Diabetes Society, 73 percent of those surveyed said their application for reimbursement to the HSE had been denied.

Freestyle Libre or Flash Glucose Monitoring (FGM) is a device that collects readings from an arm worn sensor that are displayed on the device or a phone app. The result is presented in a graph showing whether the glucose level is rising or falling. There’s a lot more informative than the standard finger picking.

Libre is currently available to people with type 1 diabetes under the age of 21, following a decision by the HSE in 2016. However, other adults with diabetes still have to pay to have their diabetes treated. The minimum monthly cost for using the technology is €120.

Poll results seen by the Irish Independent, revealing the disappointment and frustration of the Irish diabetes community. Ireland is among the top 25 percent of diabetes incidences worldwide. It is currently home to more than 266,000 people with diabetes, of whom 29,000 have type 1 diabetes, according to Diabetes Ireland.

Although the HSE has commissioned a full health technology assessment for the Freestyle Libre
In the past year, according to Diabetes Ireland, the process has stalled.

dr Kate Gajewska, clinical manager for advocacy and research at Diabetes Ireland, said: “Health Secretary Stephen Donnelly needs to lift the age restriction on the use of this vital technology. There’s no reason under 21 should be the only age group to access it for free. Those living with type 1 diabetes are in huge limbo.”

She also revealed that Ireland is “very far behind” our UK and European peers in diabetes technology as it is not funded by the HSE.

Fianna Fáil TD Cormac Devlin, Chair of the Diabetes Cross Parliamentary Group, said: “There is growing frustration in the diabetes community. Parliamentary questions highlighting the unavailability of Freestyle Libre in Ireland are the “most popular” diabetes-related submissions to the Health Secretary.

“For example, in a recent response to a question on the denial status of FGM applications for those over 21 years of age based on clinical necessity, it was reported that the proportion of denied applications from healthcare professionals annually increased from 35 percent in 2018 to 51 percent a year 2020 rises. ”

In a statement, the HSE said it wrote Hiqa to ask if it would consider a system-wide assessment of health technology across diabetes care.

“The HSE is awaiting the outcome of this inquiry. In the absence of a full value assessment of the product, the HSE is unable to make FreeStyle Libre sensors available to all type 1 diabetics in Ireland.” Thousands are locked out of key diabetes technologies because of the under-21 age limit

Fry Electronics Team

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