medtronic, unitedhealthcare, insulin pump, preferred insulin pump

UnitedHealthcare Chooses Medtronic as Preferred Insulin Pump in Contentious Deal

The FDA approved Medtronic’s MiniMed 670G for use in children with type 1 on June 21, 2018.

UnitedHealthcare (UHC) has now chosen Medtronic’s insulin pumps as their “preferred” pumps for children with diabetes receiving one for the first time. Three years ago, UHC made the same policy for adults.

Advocacy groups lash out

Diabetes advocacy groups such as JDRF and Beyond Type 1 are calling out for UHC to change its policy.

JDRF (Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation) issued a statement calling out UHC’s new policy as “an unacceptable step backward” and urging UHC to change their mind.

Under the new policy, children who use a different pump can continue with that pump as long as it’s in warranty and it works.

If patients wish to use another pump, they can go through a clinical review process to get approval before it can be covered. But the paperwork involved in trying to go through this process is often burdensome.

Many patients, when hearing that other devices are not covered, will not even go through the process of trying to get approved for a different pump.


Maintaining choice

Insulin pumps are advanced devices with many options and alerts that work differently for each user. JDRF and other advocates maintain that a patient should be able to choose the kind of pump he or she uses.

With insulin pump technology growing and changing every day, there are more advanced pumps set to come on the market in the near future for companies like Insulet, Tidepool, and Dexcom. UnitedHealthcare and Medtronic’s deal is purposeful to reduce competition. Moves like this could also result in halting innovation by other companies.

“A one-size-fits-all approach to diabetes care simply doesn’t work,” said Shara Bialo, MD, pediatric endocrinologist at Nemours Children’s Health System in Wilmington, Delaware.

What you can do

If you would like to speak out against UHC’s new policy, let UHC, Medtronic, and your doctors know. Speak up and let your voice be heard.

The UHC policy speaks to a larger issue at hand with insurance companies making treatment decisions over doctor’s and patient’s wishes.