To Pump or To Stay With Pens?

I’m been thinking a lot recently about getting a pump. Would you say that a pump is more expensive or less or the same amount of money as pens? I know it depends on the insurance plan, but I may be changing to a new plan soon. So I want to know whether it’s usually more expensive…

Pumps are more expensive, esp the cost of sensors (about $35 a month with insurance) if you get a sensor to inform you of your trends during the day and to alarm you if you are heading toward hypoglycemic reaction. But they are way more convenient and will help lower A1Cs, a very big benefit. Also, you can make small adjustment boluses any time; doing that with pens gets somewhat painful and you’ll run out of injection sites. Something else to consider. If you get a pump now, you will have to wait about 5 years to get an upgrade to the artificial pancreas that is due out by 2018. So I would get the pump while on your old insurance, then you won’t be on record with the new insurance in two years, as having bought a pump recently, and you will be able to qualify for the artificial pancreas. An AP is simply a pump, a sensor, and a closed-loop feedback to the pump that tells it how much to adjust the insulin based on the pump’s ability to predict where your glucose level is heading. So far, most people prefer the Dexcom sensor as being much more accurate. The Medtronic sensor is definitely no very accurate, and they even warn you not to take insulin based on the sensor readings. I am switching to the Dexcom 5 sensor right now.

Continuous Insulin Infusion, i.e., a pump method, is more expensive than using a pen. The costs are basically in three areas:

  1. The insulin you use. Basically the same when using pens or a pump; although maybe slightly less in pumping because you are buying in 1,000 unit vials. With a pump, you will use only a fast-acting insulin [Humalog, Novolog, etc.] and will not be buying a long-acting insulin such as Lantus.

  2. When pumping the infusion set should be changed about every three days. The costs of infusion set and reservoir is about $20 - $25 US.

  3. The cost of a pump, depending on manufacturer and type could be several thousand dollars compared with the cost of a pen or pens; although a pump should last for more than 5 years.

The costs I mention could be significantly less to you if you have a medical insurance plan that pays all or a portion of the costs. In your comparative cost analysis, disregard the CGM sensor costs as they are identical to you no matter if you continue using pens or switch to a pump. Interstitial fluid monitoring is not required when using a pump.

Pens, I found, are more money for less insulin (and you can even use them to fill your pump with fast acting if you’ve got some left over!). You don’t have to get the sensor. I pump without one (and honestly find them to be a bit of a nuisance.) I would check with your doctor and see if you can get your pump covered, at least partially.

Good luck! The pump is awesome!