Saskatoon diabetic advocating for increased insulin pump coverage to government

32-year-old Paul Kuspira from Saskatoon hopes his voice will catch the Saskatchewan government’s attention when calling for more insulin pump coverage in the province.

Kuspira was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes when he was 18 years old. Under the provincial health system, his insulin pumps were covered until he reached age 26.

His pump is now seven years old which is pushing its lifespan of five years. His device has already had issues such as problems with its motor, but eventually it would fix itself.

Since he is no longer covered, he needs to pay $7,000 to $8,000 if he wants a new pump — otherwise his current device could malfunction or fail at any time.

Kuspira said it forces him to choose between sacrificing his wallet or his health.

“Unless I get funding from Facebook or some other place, I have no idea where I would get that money,” he explained. “Maybe a bank loan, but being a homeowner — it’s something I can’t afford.”

Kuspira has a job at a warehouse in Saskatoon. With his pump, he is able to complete his tasks without having to worry about doing manual insulin injections.

If that was taken away from him, he admits it would be difficult to manage a lifestyle without a pump.

“Carrying your needles and different kinds of insulins if you have them, multiple injections a day, and it’s so difficult to keep track.”

“An insulin pump acts as your pancreas and I can live like someone who doesn’t have diabetes.”

Health critic Vicki Mowat spoke on behalf of Kuspira during question period on Monday at the legislative building, saying the government needs to support diabetics in the province as diabetes rates continue to climb.

The NDP are challenging the government to eliminate the cutoff age in Saskatchewan.

Health minister Jim Reiter said the age used to be 18 in Saskatchewan, but they increased the age to 25 a few years ago.

“There are a few provinces that cover it for everyone, there are a number of provinces that cover it at a lower age than we do. I would say we’re in the middle of the pack across the country.”

Alberta, British Columbia, Ontario and the territories are the jurisdictions that offer full support for Type 1 diabetes supplies for both youth and adults.

Reiter mentioned that they will consider looking at a similar program strategy when it’s budget time.

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