Two steps forward, two steps back


When I arrived at work Friday morning, I found the Wall Street Journal on my chair, with this article circled: "Diabetic tester that talks to iPhones and doctors." Then, Editor Liz forwarded me a link to the same article.

OK. I can take a hint. Here's my blog on the matter. The article was a technology review of a new product, set to debut this week, the Telcare, that allows users to transmit real-time readings to an online database that can be accessed by said user, and other approved folks. It can chart trends (and in diabetes management, it's all about trends, except, of course, when it's about anomalies) and spot potential problems. In other words, it's pretty cool.

The only drawback, said the author, was the price. However, at $150 (not including strips), it costs a lot less than a lot of fancy gadgets people willingly plunk money down for. I can only imagine the Telcare is the advent of bigger and better (with technology, I guess that should be smaller and faster), diabetes products on the horizon.

And, as with every step forward, there must be a step back. Today, I came across this article, about how high school students with diabetes (it doesn't specify, so I will assume it is about both Types 1 & 2), are more likely to drop out of high school and face bleaker job prospects. (note: I was a college senior when diagnosed so can't speak personally to all of what the study claims to have found).

One thing I agreed with: Those with diabetes or more likely to stick with a lower paying job if it offers good health benefits, something called "job-locked." You'll never see me strike out on my own unless I win the lottery, or marry someone with good benefits (not sure which has the longer odds these days).

What I didn't like: The part that said diabetes could alter a person's desire to enter the workforce (c'mon, you are not disabled); and that employers could be less partial to hiring someone with diabetes (this is probably true, but I have been lucky—and I don't include it on my resume under "special talents.")

I guess what bothers me about the first part is it makes people with diabetes sound helpless, or, gasp, lazy. Bring on the government benefits! In fact, it could reinforce employers' beliefs that hiring a person with diabetes would be an unsound investment, something that was quite a common perception not all too long ago.

Fortunately, I read far more these days about people with diabetes who say it has inspired them to (fill in the blank).

Or, if nothing else, inspires blog ideas.

Theresa Flaherty
Type 1, 12.5 years



Unfortunately the people at Telcare don't have a good grasp on current reimbursement for diabetic products. I read the WSJ article and was amazed that the monitor would be priced at $150 and strips at $50. Don't they know that their monitor is priced at more than twice Medicare's current allowance? Or that in the nine CBA's the bid price came in at about $15. This product will only be marketed to well-to-do high tech diabetics. Not much of a market.

Larry, you make a good point, but I don't think this is aimed at the Medicare market, which, sorry, I've never thought of as hugely high-tech. If they do have Medicare and they are into high-tech stuff, then they can afford to pay for it, no?

As to $50 for strips, that's about what mine cost.

It's not just a Medicare issue. Every private insurance co. that I deal with simply mirrors Medicare's reimbursement.. Someone checking there surgars twice a day will have to pay $800 out of pocket. My 20 years of experience tells me that if a HME product is not fully reimbursed then there is a limited market for that product. Especially if the cost is significant. I wish Telcare all the best, but if I tried to sell their procuct I'd go broke.