Do Medical Schemes Cover Diabetes Treatment?
Diabetes insipidus and diabetes mellitus types 1 & 2 are chronic diseases which fall under the medical industry’s Prescribed Minimum Benefits where diabetes treatment is required.
The law stipulates that medical schemes have to cover the costs of tests, diagnosis and medication for your diabetes. However, before you do any testing you need to check the benefits of your particular medical scheme. Sometimes the medical aid will need to give pre-authorisation.
What is diabetes?
Diabetes is a chronic condition where the body does not produce enough insulin or cannot effectively use it to provide fuel for living and growing.The pancreas makes insulin and this hormone carries sugar in the blood to the cells. When the pancreas doesn’t produce enough insulin or the insulin doesn’t work properly then you have the disease.
The three main types include:
- Type 1 – also called insulin-dependent diabetes or early-onset diabetes. It typically develops in childhood or adolescence and it’s when the body does not produce insulin because the immune system has destroyed the insulin-producing cells. People with this disease will need to inject themselves with insulin for the rest of their life.
- Type 2 – also called adult-onset diabetes. This is morewidespread and it generally affects people after they are 45 years old. The body either doesn’t make enough insulin or itdoesn’t use it correctly. Patients with type 2 can often control their disease with weight loss, implementing a healthy eating plan and exercising. It is a progressive condition and requires medication sometimes, in addition to these lifestyle changes.
- Gestational diabetes mellitus – this affects females during pregnancy. With exercise and diet control is necessary and it usually disappears after pregnancy.
Causes of diabetes
No one knows why people develop diabetes but it could be that type 1 genetic and environmental factors influence type 1, while type 2 is a combination of elements like genetics, obesity, poor diet, physical inactivity, age and ethnicity.
People can live with diabetes for many years without realising it as they display no symptoms. Often a doctor only discovers it is when a person has a life-threatening complication like heart disease, kidney failure, loss of sight or nerve disease. Type 1 symptoms are frequently more severe than type 2 and they will regularly appear more quickly.
Warning signs include:
- urinating often
- being unusually thirsty
- having intense hunger
- abnormal weight loss
- intense fatigue
- being irritable
- blurry eyesight
- injuries that heal slowly
- hands and feet that are numb or tingle
- repeated infections of the skin, gum or bladder
Tests for diabetes
Because one can have the disease for many years it’s important go for screening regularly. Important tests include:
- The Hemoglobin A1C test which checks your average blood sugar level for the past few months.
- The FPG (fasting plasma glucose) test. Doctor takes blood samples after the patient fasts overnight.
- The OGTT (oral glucose tolerance test). Doctor takes blood samples fter fasting and again two hours after drinking a sugary solution.
How common is diabetes?
Globally there are about 366 million people with diabetes. In South Africa it is estimated that 6% of the population suffers from the disease although many remain undiagnosed. There is no known cure for diabetes but it can be controlled with proper care. The first step is to get tested, it’s then important to accept that you have this chronic condition and you subsequently have to learn how to manage it through diet, exercise and medication.