5 February 2020

Canberra expands access to free CGM technology

Diabetes Government Patients

People with type 1 diabetes who are over the age of 21 and have a valid concession card will soon have access to free continuous glucose monitoring systems, Health Minister Greg Hunt announced this week.

The Freestyle Libre Flash devices will be subsidised from 1 March this year under a $300 million government plan to allow an additional 58, 000 patients with the condition to access the continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) initiative provided under the National Diabetes Services Scheme.

Previously, patients had to meet a set of high-risk or high-need clinical criteria in order to be eligible for subsidised CGM systems.

Diabetes Australia describes the devices as “life-changing” and welcomed the move to give more patients access to the scheme.

“Today’s announcement means that around 50 percent of all people with type 1 diabetes in Australia will now have free access to this technology,” Professor Greg Johnson, CEO of Diabetes Australia, said in a media statement.

“The new process is much more straightforward and has removed this administrative burden for eligible people with type 1 diabetes. If you have a valid concession card you can get access.”

Without government subsidy, patients would have to pay $92.50 a fortnight for a FreeStyle Libre flash glucose monitoring system – amounting to more than $2,400 per year. The savings to the health system are significant too, with the cost of treating severe hypoglycaemia in the hospital system costing the government up to $15,000 per patient.

The changes to accessing the CGM initiative means the following patients are now eligible for subsidised devices:

• Children and young people aged under 21 years with type 1 diabetes.

• Women with type 1 diabetes who are planning for pregnancy, pregnant, or immediately post pregnancy.

• Children and young people with conditions very similar to type 1 diabetes, such as cystic fibrosis-related diabetes and neonatal diabetes, who require insulin.

• People with type 1 diabetes aged 21 years or older and who have concessional status.