woman holding medicare card with diabetes supplies; medicare and diabetes

How Medicare Can Help with Diabetes

Are you living with diabetes and have health coverage through Medicare? Medicare covers many of the services and items you may need to manage your condition.

One quarter of people age 65 and older live with diabetes or prediabetes. The condition can be difficult to manage and come with many complications, like damage to the eyes, kidneys, and heart. If blood sugar levels are not kept within a safe range, the damage to nerves throughout the brain can leave parts of the body permanently damaged.

What does Medicare Part B cover?

Medicare Part B covers two diabetes screenings per year.

You should get a diabetes screening if you have:

  • High blood pressure
  • High blood sugar
  • Abnormal cholesterol or triglyceride levels
  • Obesity

With Medicare, you are also covered for a one-time Welcome to Medicare Visit as well as an annual Wellness Visit. During this time, you should talk to your doctor about any preventative screenings you may need in order to get an idea of your overall health.

If your doctor prescribes it, Medicare Part B will also cover things like outpatient diabetes self-management courses to help you learn how to manage the disease. These courses will teach you the best medication, testing, and nutrition practices for diabetes management.


What does Medicare Part D cover?

Medicare Part D covers medications, testing equipment, and supplies. This includes drugs you’ll need to manage your blood sugar levels like metformin or insulin not administered through a pump.

As of January 2017, Medicare also covers continuous glucose monitors (CGMs), as long as they are defined as a therapeutic CGM, you have high blood sugar, and you have to intensively manage your insulin throughout the day.

the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have developed a new pill that could deliver insulin without the need of a needle and skin injections.

In the past, it was thought impossible to create a pill for insulin, because insulin is broken down when it enters the digestive system.

New development in oral insulin

But researchers came up with a new idea for an insulin pill. Inspired by the shell of the leopard tortoise, this pill is has a rounded shell that makes it so that the tiny insulin needle underneath always aims at the stomach wall. Once it attaches to the stomach lining, it deposits insulin into the lining.

Tests have only been done on animals thus far, but all have been successful.

The pill is about the size of a blueberry and easy to swallow. Since the stomach wall does not have pain receptors, there is not any pain involved in taking the pill. Once the insulin is injected into the gastrointestinal tract, it takes about an hour to dissolve into the bloodstream.

The new pill will go into human clinical trials over the next few years.


Other innovations in insulin

Insulin can now be taken orally through newly developed inhalers, such as Afrezza. It can also be administered through a pump rather than injection. The American Diabetes Association has said that insulin pumps “deliver insulin more accurately than injections.”

The new “needle pill” could potentially be used to administer other drugs are given by injection as well.

Taking insulin injections every day can be painful and arduous. In addition, it’s a stumbling block to taking needed needed medications. With innovations in oral insulin, diabetes management will be that much more efficient.