CVS Caremark — Hates Diabetics, Hates America

March 9, 2012

I hope that shocking title will grab everyone’s attention, or at least the attention of diabetic Americans. I’ve only been on Caremark since January and am already extremely dissatisfied with them for two reasons:

1) They will only cover Novolog insulin. I have nothing against Novo Nordisk or against Denmark. But, please understand that I am a U.S. citizen living in the U.S. with a U.S. based health insurance company. And, that company will not allow me to buy my insulin from a U.S. company, Ely Lilly. Instead, they require me to buy from a Danish company, Novo Nordisk. They should cover all brands of insulin as different people get different results from the minor differences in the insulin analogs we use today. Especially in difficult economic times for the U.S., U.S. based companies should not be explicitly disallowing patronage of U.S. companies for the few things we still actually do manufacture in the U.S.

2) I was just denied coverage for my continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) sensors. For anyone who is not a diabetic or does not use CGM, this technology allows for testing glucose levels every 5 minutes throughout the day. While there are a lot of issues with the current level of this technology, it has quite possibly saved my life several times. Low blood sugar, in particular, can be immediately dangerous. Diabetics can go into insulin shock and die. These sensors have alerted me to very low blood sugar before I felt the affects several times in the last 4+ years since I’ve been using them. Far more often, they alert me to high blood sugar. While high blood sugar is generally not immediately dangerous, the long term affects of high blood sugar are both devastating and costly. They include at a minimum blindness, loss of limb, kidney failure, heart disease, neurological damage and severe constant pain, and impotence.

So, while the sensors may not technically be life-sustaining, they actually can prevent death and severe diabetic complications.

If you are a diabetic and have any choice in prescription drug plans, do not choose CVS Caremark.

Medco was far better. They all suck. But, Caremark is the worst I’ve encountered. If you are not a diabetic, I would still recommend against Caremark partially just to make the statement to them that if they want to remain in business, they should provide rather than deny health care. Also, since it’s probably impossible to really find out what will be covered in advance, I would suggest that it’s a good bet that if they treat diabetics so poorly, they probably aren’t singling us out. They probably treat all of their patients poorly.

I do plan to appeal this. However, I will be off of Caremark soon. So, really we’re talking about 3 orders. Still, at $420 per order, this is not an insignificant sum.

I should have moved to a civilized country years ago.

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Glucose Meter Accuracy: (Please Vote) Is 20% close enough for you?

September 2, 2011

Please vote in the poll below, even if only to let me know that I’m being overly anal-retentive.

I only learned recently that the industry standard level of accuracy for blood glucose meters is to be within 20% of lab results. I learned this after a doctor’s visit where I tested my blood glucose (BG) via my home blood glucose meter within a minute of my blood being drawn for lab work. I noted my BG as 82 and thought, good, right on target.

Anyway, this time, I was careful to check very close to the time that the blood was drawn and equally careful to note that particular reading. Again, my meter said 82.

My lab result was 69! This is a difference of just under 19% (((82 – 69) / 69) * 100) = 18.84%, though perhaps I should just round to 19 since I don’t really have that level of precision in the actual readings.

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Continuous Glucose Monitoring with Medtronic/MiniMed Updated

December 5, 2007

I decided to create a new post for this so that my initial reaction to continuous metering would remain untouched and available for review. If you would like to see my first reactions to this device, please refer to my original post on the same topic.

I am now at the point where I am satisfied with the sensor glucose readings about 75% of the time. This has taken me a number of months, despite the fact that I consider myself quite technical and quite good at caring for my diabetes. Thus far, the sensor has helped my go from an A1C of 5.8 to 5.3, an improvement of about 9%. I do not know yet whether my next A1C will be as good. My doctor has cautioned be about going low too often. Being even more careful about lows than I had been may raise this slightly.

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