Mississippi State Representative Jeffrey S. Guice’s June 27, 2016, email message to a family regarding Medicaid/Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) coverage of diabetes supplies demonstrates a lack of knowledge about the daily and life-long challenges and costs of living with diabetes. We hope that this is an opportunity for Rep. Guice and many others to learn more about diabetes.
Diabetes is a complex and often misunderstood chronic health condition that affects nearly 30 million Americans, approximately one out of every 11 people, and includes approximately 200,000 children. It is also one of the nation’s leading chronic health care crises. According to the American Diabetes Association’s report, Economic Costs of Diabetes in the United States in 2012, the national health care costs of diabetes exceed $245 billion each year. The human costs are measured in the horrific complications, including blindness, amputation, heart disease, kidney failure, and death, that families like the one who wrote to Rep. Guice are seeking to avoid by having the tools they need to successfully manage diabetes.
According to the 2012 Economic Costs report, a person with diabetes can expect to have annual health care costs that are approximately 2.3 times, or an additional $7,872, more than someone who does not have diabetes. Because diabetes is a complex health condition, the challenges and costs associated with diabetes care can vary significantly from person to person. Some people are able to use less expensive prescription medications to effectively manage their diabetes, while others must use insulin and prescription medications and test their blood glucose many times a day. Being able to obtain the medications and supplies to manage diabetes is not a luxury, it’s a necessity.
Nicole Nichols, the mother of the child with type 1 diabetes who wrote to Rep. Guice, sought help with recent changes in obtaining diabetes supplies under Mississippi’s Medicaid/CHIP program. This situation is just one example of the difficulties individuals with diabetes and their families experience accessing the care they need to remain healthy. It was appropriate for the mother of the child with type 1 diabetes to alert elected officials to a problem with her state’s Medicaid/CHIP program and to seek help to rectify that problem. That’s advocacy, and it’s important.
The American Diabetes Association hopes Mississippi will take the steps needed to ensure vital diabetes supplies are available to those in the Medicaid and CHIP programs, and encourages open and respectful dialogue to engage, support and advocate for people with diabetes.
Robert E. Ratner, MD, FACP, FACE
Chief Scientific & Medical Officer
American Diabetes Association