Thanks to a concerted effort that included mobilizing Breakthrough T1D’s grassroots network of T1D champions across the nation, UnitedHealthcare (UHC), the nation’s largest insurer, has increased choice and will begin to cover the t:slim X2 insulin pump from Tandem Diabetes in network on July 1st.

This gives people living with type 1 diabetes (T1D) more choice in deciding which technology they use to manage their T1D.

“UHC’s decision to cover Tandem Diabetes’ insulin pumps is a direct result of the T1D community’s advocacy,” said Aaron J. Kowalski, Ph.D., Breakthrough T1D President and CEO. “Our Coverage2Control campaign brought together thousands of T1D champions demanding UHC give people with T1D the freedom to choose the insulin pump that’s right for them.”

“Today’s decision reflects the power of the collective voice of our community,” Kowalski emphasized. “We thank UnitedHealthcare for ensuring that its members have access to the technology they need to stay as healthy as possible until we have cures for T1D.”

Another T1D Triumph

Through its Coverage2Control campaign, Breakthrough T1D rallies members of the T1D community to encourage health insurers to provide affordable options, give people more choices and offer coverage for all therapies to help ensure that people with T1D have what they need to survive and lead healthy lives.

As a result, the 25 largest insurance companies in the United States covered the first artificial pancreas system, and many put into place options to lower out-of-pocket costs for insulin.

Unfortunately, UHC had a pre-existing policy that limited pump choice for adults. On February 1, 2019, UHC announced the policy would also apply to children.

Breakthrough T1D saw this as an unacceptable step backward and mobilized the community to respond.

Using Breakthrough T1D’s campaign tools, more than 27,000 supporters sent upwards of 145,000 messages to UHC leadership and shared their concerns on social media, urging them to change their decision.

In October 2019, Kowalski and other members of the Breakthrough T1D senior leadership team met with UHC’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Richard Migliori, to make the case directly.

Importance of Insulin Pump Choice

Finding the best insulin pump is a personal decision that affects how people manage their T1D. Pumps have different features and capabilities and different insulin pumps work best for different people.

A person living with T1D may choose to go without a pump if they are unable to find or afford one that works for them. This can lead to diabetes being managed less successfully and increase the cost of care as health outcomes are negatively affected. Providing people with diabetes the full range of pump options increases the likelihood that they will use insulin pumps, will better manage their T1D and achieve improved health outcomes.

While Breakthrough T1D works with its partners and researchers to unlock the science for cures, we are fighting for policies that increase access to life-saving T1D treatments—such as insulin, insulin pumps, artificial pancreas systems, and continuous glucose monitors—and are sharing the most up-to-date information on programs that help with costs.

“My son and I are thrilled to learn that UHC is opening the door to covering new technologies so those living with T1D can choose the management tools that are right for them,” said Jill Folsom. “As a young adult, my son was essentially forced off of his preferred pump, and—in using a pump that didn’t fit his needs as well—he’s seen poor outcomes as a result. I am so grateful for Breakthrough T1D’s continued advocacy efforts to ensure people with T1D are empowered to make these important, personal decisions, and that health plans follow suit by covering a wide range of tools to manage the disease.”