Theatre practitioner Selva Avant has taken to Facebook to share his frustrations about lack of Government subsidies for glucose blood test strips. He pointed out that diabetics need very frequent blood testing, and the out of pocket cost for the strips may deter some from properly caring for themselves.
Currently, Medisave can be used to pay for outpatient treatment for 19 approved chronic diseases under the Chronic Disease Management Programme (CDMP) and diabetes is one of them.
Under the CDMP, Medisave can generally be used to pay for:
▪ drugs/medications (including non-standard drugs);
▪ laboratory tests;
▪ diagnostic tests, e.g. eye screening, foot screening; and
▪ allied health services, such as nursing and physiotherapy as referred to by the doctor.
Medisave however cannot be used for the purchase of glucometers, glucometer strips, blood pressure monitoring equipment, wheelchairs, prostheses, or other home nursing equipment.
The Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH) in its website highlighted the plight of one such diabetic patient, 58-year-old Madam Wong. In highlighting how the hospital’s Community fund helps the woman it said:
“But, managing her diabetes costs money. Working as a part-time cashier, Mdm Wong barely manages to scrape through each day. Life became harder for Mdm Wong in 2012 when a bad fall left her wheelchair-bound for a year – She had no choice but to give up her job.
Syringes, insulin, lancets, glucose test strips and other needs cost from $150 to $250 each month. These are daily essentials that Mdm Wong needs but cannot afford having lost her job and depleted what little savings she had.
Without support, poor diabetic patients like Mdm Wong will lapse on their care regime – some reusing injection syringes thus risking infections, some of them stop monitoring their glucose levels – putting themselves at dangerous positions of getting serious diabetes-related complications such as heart and blood diseases, stroke, kidney failure, blindness, etc.”
TTSH’s Diabetes Care Programme (DCP) provides needy diabetic patients with monthly supplies of consumables such as insulin, syringes, test strips and lancets to enable them to monitor their condition at home.
The hospital said that it is critical for diabetic patients to do this to keep their condition under control and prevent/delay the onset of serious complications and even death.