Blood Sugar Trampoline

Funding the Freestyle Libre

Reader Sensor FreeStyle Libre 6.2mmol TAGU GBENThe long, long, long, long, long, long awaited Abbott Freestyle Libre has been officially launched for sale in Ireland on November 1st. Click here to purchase. The Libre is a less invasive method of checking blood glucose levels and provides a profile of blood glucose trends in a graph on a reader device for up to 14 days.

And for most people with type 1 diabetes, the finger prick blood sugar check is not the worst part of living with type 1. But, the not knowing what your blood glucose is between finger prick to finger prick is a crucial missing piece of the living with type 1 diabetes puzzle.

I was very honoured to be invited to an advance briefing on the Abbott Freestyle Libre with several other members from the diabetes blogging community on October 13th.

(DISCLAIMER ALERT!!) Abbott paid for my travel expenses from Clare to attend but they did not ask me to blog about or influence my opinions of the Libre. I was asked to try out the Abbott Freestyle Libre with two sensors and given them for free.

CONFIDENTIALITY – we also had to agree to not discuss our briefing outside of the room until the media embargo was lifted on November 1st. This was really difficult, I think for all of us as members of the diabetes community and not being able to talk about it with our community. This was really difficult!

I have been following the Libre since it’s launch in the UK a couple of years ago. I don’t think there is any doubt in anyone’s mind that the Libre will revolutionise diabetes care, especially in Ireland, and more importantly, improve the quality of life for many people living with diabetes. The launch of the Libre in Ireland will give more people access to the blood glucose data that has only available to very few who have been able to acquire CGM systems.

I feel that my opinion of the Libre may be different than most people who are buying it, in that they are moving from finger prick blood glucose meter checking to the Libre. I, on the other hand, have been using a CGM for a year, so the information “wow” factor didn’t exist for me when I fired up my Libre because I had that information “wow” factor (“Really, that’s what two slices of toast does to my BGs!”) a year ago.

I may do a full review of how I found using the Libre in a later post but for now I want to share some of the information I learned from the briefing and from making some phone calls about funding the Libre.

As you may have heard, the Libre is not available on the government funded Long Term Illness Scheme which provides all approved diabetes medications and supplies free of charge. Yet!

Abbott could not comment on what stage they were at in the procurement process with the HSE Long Term Illness scheme. And declined to offer a contact within the HSE that we could chase after – I suppose who could blame them. So, for now, here are a few tips that may help you cover the cost of the Libre.

The Libre starter pack of two sensors and a reader costs €169.90. After that each sensor costs €59.90 and if you break or lose your it will cost €59.90 to replace it. It is a big financial commitment for a person living with diabetes and here are some options to help with the covering the cost of it;

Tax Relief through the Med 1 Form

One option available to everyone is to claim tax relief via the Med 1 form from Irish revenue. This will reimburse you 20% of the cost of the Libre and subsequent sensors every year. You just need to keep your receipts from all your purchases.

Private Health Insurance

The other option that may be available in the near future is that there are at least two health insurance companies who provide benefits for a an approved Medical Appliance purchases. I spoke with Laya Healthcare as they are my insurer and only share the list of approved medical devices with members. Currently, there are no blood glucose monitoring devices  listed on Laya’s Approved list of Medical Appliances, only a Glucometer. Laya reviews their list annually, so I have hopes that all glucose monitoring devices will be included in the near future.

 

Initially, the cost of the Libre might seems expensive and does add up, it’s not anyway close to the cost of a Continuous Glucose Monitoring System. And they value of the information it provides you with to help manage your diabetes better and more effectively is priceless.

4 thoughts on “Funding the Freestyle Libre

  1. Hi – thanks for the write up.

    My 11 yo daughter has been T1D for the past 7 years. We have been using the Libre for the past 3 months or so, ordering from Abbott UK and having them deliver to a ParcelMotel address in Belfast. Initially we were delighted with the lack of figerpricks but moreso, as you said, the ability to see trend data over the previous 8 hours. This makes a reading of, say, 4.0 much easier to react to. If stable, well let’s wait for 15 minutes but if coming down rapidly, then lets get some food fast!

    However, the real game-changer for us was the use of some open source projects called LibreAlarm (https://github.com/pimpimmi/LibreAlarm/wiki) along with Nightscout (http://www.nightscout.info/wiki/welcome) and xDrip (https://github.com/jamorham/xDrip-plus) in the middle. Now I can have my phone beside my bed and it will alarm if levels go outside a predefined range OR if no update has been received from the Libre in a specified period of time. We’ve had our first full night sleep in a long, long time using this. Now there are some issues to be sure – these are mainly around the signal not getting from the Libre through to the Nightscout. You’ll also need some technical skills to wire everything up but the open source communities are amazing on Facebook.

    As these are all open source (created and maintained by people with direct connection to T1D in their own time for free), there is an onus on you to understand that, while they have proved solid for a large number of people, the responsibility is yours.

    I personally have nothing to do with these project although I will be submitting a bug fix to one shortly as a way of contributing to the effort 🙂

    Anyway, thought I’d share.

    Keep up the good work!
    Sean (in Dublin)

  2. That’s excellent Sean, and thanks for sharing that the Libre can be integrated into the Nightscout project.

  3. Is there any chance that you could get this on the medical card for a lot cheaper?? It’s confusing because you dont need a prescription you literally just buy it online..?
    (Any info would be great! This is such an amazing step forward in diabetes but I’m a student and there’s realistically no way i could ever afford to continuously buy the patches and b able to feed myself !) 🙁

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