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Insurance and My Utility Belt

I’m not a big superhero guy, but I love the gadgets in superhero movies. I don’t really remember the plot of Iron Man 3, but I do remember that Robert Downey Jr. could summon up hand-lasers to zap the bad guys with just a thought. On more than one occasion, I’ve thought that such an ability could come in handy. An on-command jetpack seems pretty tempting when I’m slogging uphill during a triathlon.

With diabetes I need different gadgets depending on my activity level. Take meters, for example. Normally, my go-to-meter is the Dexcom CGM; it’s accurate and it shows not just where my BG reading is now, but where it’s likely going. But I’ve found that during extreme exercise, its interstitial fluid-based reading system has a small lag time. I need something blood-based that’s a bit more up to the minute. So during competitions, I like to use the Accu-Chek Compact Plus, which has a self-contained drum with 17 strips and a lancing device attached. The whole thing fits into the palm of my hand, and I can check readings without really breaking my stride. Besides, it feels like a secret gadget.

Ah, but there’s a catch: The drums and strips for the AccuChek are no longer on my insurance provider’s formulary. A pack of 51 strips go for $63, and I can easily go through a pack in one race. Now I know why superheroes often are billionaires; Bruce Wayne doesn’t have this kind of problem.

While not every person with diabetes need run a triathlon, everyone knows that a good exercise routine is vital for Type 1s and Type 2s to stay healthy. And let’s not forget that healthy people keep insurance costs down. So it seems self-defeating for insurance companies to put a hurdle in place for a good exercise regimen.

Unfortunately, formulary number-crunching doesn’t always tell the whole story of the complex daily routine of someone with diabetes. Hopefully, with the new federal mandates in place that emphasize the need for funding preventative health measures, the math will change in the future.

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Andy Holder was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at the age of 36. Despite never having competed a triathlon before and not knowing how to swim, he took on the grueling 2.4 swim - 112 mile bike - 26.2 mile run that is the Ironman Triathlon. He is now a 8-time Ironman finisher, inspirational speaker, diabetes spokesperson, and founder of the "Iron Andy Foundation". Andy is responsible for audience development and building collaborations with organizations who empower people to live beyond diabetes.

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