Used to Seem Like Such a Long Time

Insulin pump evolution — in 4-year increments

Online CommunityBy Scott Johnson

March 2013 — I have been wearing an insulin pump since the mid-nineties. My first pump didn't even have a back-lite or a vibrate feature. It was programmed in half-unit increments, and it took forever to tell it to deliver even a small bolus. For ten units I had to press the button twenty times! But back then, it was top of the line. Each pump since then has had some sort of advancement either making it easier to use, or allowing for better overall therapy management.

As I was investigating that first pump, one of the factors I had to consider was cost. How much would this pump cost me initially, and how much would it cost each month for the disposable supplies and other pump therapy necessities? I needed to know if I could afford this therapy.

I learned that insurance coverage for insulin pumps varied a lot. Coverage depended on your insurance provider, and within each provider coverage was different for each employer's plan. Two people with Blue Cross Blue Shield might have drastically different coverage because one worked for Target and the other worked for Walmart (for example).

I also learned that each pump company had groups of employees who's job it was to investigate my specific plan benefits and let me know details about my coverage and what their pump and supplies would cost me. It was through this group that I found out that my plan, like most people's, would cover an insulin pump every four or five years.


That felt like quite a commitment to me back then. What if I chose one brand of pump but didn't like it? What if I decide on one pump, then someone launches a new model? What if something I hadn't even considered yet made me want to switch? I felt that I'd be stuck. For four years, minimum.

Four years? Four years? That sounded like an eternity! There was suddenly so much pressure to make the right decision. It was miserable. After a lot of deliberation, I made my choice.

The years passed by and before I even realized what happened, it was time to start shopping for another pump. The process has happened again and again, and each time it happens I'm shocked to find out that another four years of my life have passed.

I've also learned that even when I decide on a pump that isn't super awesome, that I can get used to it. I learned that I can tolerate the little idiosyncrasies and manage my diabetes just fine. I learned that in the worst case scenario I can always go back to shots if really necessary.

I learned that my doctor will help me push my insurance company for a new pump if there is a feature that will make a difference in my diabetes management.

I learned that I'm not getting married to my insulin pump, promising to God and everyone else that I'll love it 'til death do us part.

I learned that life happens, and that it can be fun to try a new insulin pump every few years. I learned that we, as consumers, need to keep these pump companies on their toes and always pushing for better technology and therapy management tools.

I learned that four years isn't that long at all.

Read more of Scott Johnson's columns here.

Visit Scott's blog. 


dLife's Viewpoints columnists are not all medical experts, but everyday people living with diabetes and sharing their personal experiences, most often at a set point in time. While their method of diabetes management may work for them, everyone is different. Please consult with your diabetes care team before acting on anything you read here to find out what will work best for you.

Last Modified Date: June 19, 2013

All content on is created and reviewed in compliance with our editorial policy.
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by Brenda Bell
As I mentioned in an earlier post, one of the benefits that made it cost-effective for me to go with the real healthcare (HSA) plan rather than the phony (HRA) plan is that my company is now covering "preventative" medicines at $0 copay. The formulary for these, as stated by CVS/Caremark (my pharmacy benefits provider), covers all test strips, lancets, and control solutions. I dutifully get my doctor to write up prescriptions for all of my testing needs, submit...
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