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Insurance Should Cover Diabetic Alert Dogs

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Sponsor: The Diabetes Site

These dogs can save lives, but prohibitive costs keep many from acquiring them. Insurance companies should cover them!


Service dogs transform the lives of their charges. From assisting the blind and deaf to helping returning veterans cope with PTSD, the positive impact of their help upon their owners cannot be denied.

People with diabetes can also benefit from being paired with a service dog. With the proper training, dogs can use their superior sense of smell to alert their owners to fluctuating blood sugar1. This is especially important among Type 1 diabetics who suffer from a condition known as Hypoglycemic Unawareness. This condition prevents a person from feeling when his or her blood sugar is rapidly falling or is dangerously low2.

Other symptoms, such as stomach cramps, nausea, dizziness, or even seizures, are the only hints sufferers receive without testing their blood sugar. If left untreated, hypoglycemia can even result in unconsciousness, coma, or death in as few as twenty minutes3.

For those with Hypoglycemic Unawareness, an alert dog might mean the difference between life and death4.

Diabetic alert dogs are trained to recognize symptoms of fluctuating blood sugar, sometimes both highs and lows, and alert their charge to their condition, even waking a sleeping person should the need arise5.

There's no denying a diabetic alert dog could save countless lives and improve the quality of life for their owners. So why don't more people have them?

Their cost.

A diabetes alert dog can cost up to $20,000. For the average person, this price tag can prevent people with diabetes from acquiring the service dog assistance they require6.

People with diabetes shouldn't be asked to shoulder this financial burden on their own when they pay insurance premiums! Tell the U.S.'s top five Insurance providers and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to cover the costs of these dogs for any diabetic whose doctors' recommend them.

More on this issue:

  1. Emma Ryan, Jeemin Kwon, The diaTribe Foundation (13 March 2018), "When You Don't Know You're Low %mdash; Hypoglycemia Unawareness 101."
  2. Philip E. Cryer, Journal of Clinical Investigation (2 April 2007), "Hypoglycemia, functional brain failure, and brain death."
  3. Evan A. Los, Katrina L. Ramsey, Ines Guttmann-Bauman and Andrew J. Ahmann, Journal of Diabetes Science and Technology (May 2017), "Reliability of Trained Dogs to Alert to Hypoglycemia in Patients With Type 1 Diabetes."
  4. Miriam E. Tucker, NPR (29 July 2016), "Can Diabetes Alert Dogs Help Sniff Out Low Blood Sugar?"
  5. Beyond Type 1, "Diabetic Alert Dogs (DADS)."
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The Petition:

To the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), and the CEOs of WellPoint Insurance, CIGNA Health Insurance Company, Aetna, Humana, and United Healthcare,

I am writing to urge you to add diabetic alert dogs to your insurance policies. I am dismayed that these effective assistants to managing and maintaining awareness of blood glucose levels are effectively uncovered by the insurance industry.

These alert dogs provide life-saving care to people with diabetes, especially those who suffer from Hypoglycemic Unawareness. This condition prevents diabetics from feeling when his or her blood sugar is rapidly falling or is dangerously low. Other symptoms, such as stomach cramps, nausea, dizziness, or even seizures, are the only hints sufferers receive without testing their blood sugar. If left untreated, hypoglycemia can even result in unconsciousness, coma, or death in as few as twenty minutes.

Diabetic alert dogs are trained to recognize symptoms of fluctuating blood sugar, sometimes both highs and lows, and alert their charge to their condition, even waking a sleeping person should the need arise.

But, as you are no doubt aware, the cost of training a diabetic alert dog can be massive. According to Dogs4Diabetics, a diabetes alert dog typically costs around $20,000, but other sources cite the price tag as high as $50,000. For the average diabetic, this enormous price tag can prevent them from acquiring the service dog assistance they require.

As the nation's most prominent health insurance providers, I'm asking you to lead the charge on making diabetic alert dogs more accessible to your clients. Lives are on the line. And an alert dog could make lived with diabetes easier for so many.

Please, help defray the costs of acquiring a diabetic alert dog. Add these life-saving companions to your policies.

Sincerely,

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