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CGM Access for All First Nations and Inuit People in Canada Using Insulin

A health benefits program for uninsured individuals expanded eligibility for coverage of the Dexcom G6 continuous glucose monitors (CGM) to all eligible people with diabetes in Canada.

In April, Canada’s Non-Insured Health Benefits (NIHB) Program started to provide coverage of continuous glucose monitors (CGM) to all Canadians who manage diabetes with insulin, allowing people with type 2 diabetes to access the device.

The NIHB Program provides coverage for a wide variety of medications and other healthcare services for First Nations and Inuit communities across Canada. Previously, the program only covered CGM for individuals ages 2-19 on intensive insulin therapy. In January, the NIHB program announced that they would expand coverage to all enrolled people with type 1 diabetes, regardless of age. With the most recent announcement, all people in the program who use insulin are covered for a Dexcom G6, FreeStyle Libre and FreeStyle Libre 2.

Expanded eligibility under the NIHB program could significantly improve access to CGM for First Nations and Inuit communities across Canada – vital given the impact that diabetes continues to have in these communities. In 2021, nearly 900,000 people were eligible to receive benefits via NIHB.

CGM has become increasingly accessible to people with type 2 diabetes. Earlier this year, Medicare in the US expanded its own CGM coverage for people with type 2 diabetes who are taking insulin as well as members who are not on insulin but have a history of hypoglycemia. These policy changes are in line with the clinical practice guidelines of Diabetes Canada that recommends the use of CGM for all people with type 1 diabetes and those with type 2 on insulin therapy “to reduce A1C and increase time in range.”

In Dexcom’s press release about the news, Andre Cote, vice president and general manager of Dexcom Canada, stated, “NIHB’s decision to expand coverage for real-time CGM to any client using insulin is a crucial sign of forward motion within Canada’s healthcare system and will pave the way for improved health and quality of life outcomes.”

Additionally, using a CGM has been shown to help people with diabetes improve their glucose management and significantly reduce the risk for long-term complications like heart and kidney disease.

“Indigenous, First Nations and Inuit communities are disproportionately impacted by diabetes beyond childhood and adolescence, making this announcement a key step forward to ensuring better glucose control, improved health outcomes and reduced risk of developing diabetes-related complications,” said Dr. Jeff Winterstein, an Edmonton-based internal medicine specialist who works with many NIHB patients with diabetes, in a press release from Dexcom.

“CGM can help to bridge the distance between remote communities and care providers,” Winterstein said.

For more about NIHB, eligibility, and enrollment, see the NIHB website.