I read many stories from the U.S. diabetes community about their ordeals with insurance, and I feel bad for those who have to fight with their insurance companies about these things.
As an Australian, these stories feel rather foreign to me (no pun intended). Diabetes management tools are not tied to insurance companies in Australia, and health insurance is not tied to employment. Rather, health insurance is a choice that is tailored to meet the needs of my diabetes management and overall health. Diabetes products in Australia are delivered through the National Diabetes Services Scheme (NDSS). The NDSS is an Australian government initiative that is administered by Diabetes Australia.
I was encouraged to register with the NDSS as soon as I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in hospital. Since registration, I have had access to subsidized test strips, insulin pump supplies and free syringes and needles. I purchase diabetes supplies at my local pharmacy, which is one of many NDSS outlets in Australia. Because I’m registered with the NDSS, I don’t need a doctor’s prescription to access these items, either.
We also have a government-funded Medicare system. It covers the bulk of the costs associated with doctor visits, provides emergency hospital treatment, and gives me affordable access to pharmaceuticals. This also means that I’m able to access insulin at a heavily subsidized cost.
I also choose to have my own Private Health Insurance policy. I pay an annual premium to a fund of my choice, which costs roughly one week’s wage. My policy is fairly comprehensive and tailored to the needs of my diabetes and of my overall health.
The hospital coverage on my policy guarantees that any urgent or non-urgent matter will be treated straight away, and it relieves most of the costs associated with hospital care. This provides me with great peace of mind at a time when am transitioning to insulin pump therapy. My health insurer will also cover the cost of my insulin pump, provided it is administered in a hospital setting.
As a person with diabetes, I still spend a great deal of time and money on my health. I need to be invested in my health if I want to live a long and healthy life. I count myself fortunate that I am in a position to support myself in regards to my health.
No system is perfect, but I feel pretty grateful that I live with diabetes in Australia.
Editor’s note – This article has been lightly edited to make Frank Sita sound a bit more like a Yank. We apologize to Frank if our editing gets him teased for this by his Australian mates.
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