Continuous Glucose Monitors (CGMs)—Everything You Need to Know

Advocacy

Continuous Glucose Monitors

Everything you need to know about continuous glucose monitors (CGMs).
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“These are devices that can help people without much more engagement than turning on and looking at their phone." –Dr. Anastasia Albanese-O’Neill 

“With patients, if they can actually see what their numbers are they will make different choices.” –Tandalaya Traylor, CGM provider

“I’ve had my A1Cs drop from 13% to 8% with folks using CGM because they’re getting that real time information.” –Sara Reece, CGM provider

Advances in Continuous Glucose Monitor (CGM) technology have made our lives easier, and that goes for people with diabetes as well. Insulin administration and blood glucose (blood sugar) monitoring have transformed from multiple finger pricks in a day to a few swipes on a cell phone. With a continuous glucose monitor (CGM), one can see in real time if they’re trending high or low and take preventative measures against hypo and hyperglycemia. Real time CGM monitoring has led to tremendous outcomes for people with diabetes who, without a CGM, may have experienced potentially life-threatening complications. 

With the benefits and ease of use that a CGM provides, it would be natural to assume everyone with diabetes has one, or at least has access to one. That however is not the case, studies show that poorer, older, Black and Brown Americans and Americans on Medicaid have less access to CGMs than their counterparts. This is a health disparity we can’t ignore. People with diabetes have the right to access the latest technologies. Federal and state government officials can and should take steps to drive improved and more uniform coverage policies for diabetes technology and supplies within. 
 

What is a CGM?

CGMs continually monitor your blood glucose (blood sugar), giving you real-time updates through a device that is attached to your body. They have become popular and more accurate over the years and are now considered a viable treatment option for people with diabetes.
 

Why are CGMs Beneficial?

Woman with cgm looking at glucose results on phoneCGMs provide significant, potentially life changing benefits for diabetes management. CGMs are recommended for several reasons because they: 

  • Help avoid or delay serious, short- and long-term diabetes complications. 
  • Potentially save money through improved diabetes management and fewer events, like hypoglycemia (low blood glucose) leading to emergencies.
  • Offer people with diabetes and their health care team more details about glucose levels than traditional blood glucose meters—giving the opportunity to analyze the data more precisely than ever before. 
  • Provide biofeedback in real time, which allows people with diabetes to modify their dietary pattern or insulin dose based on trends, as directed by their health care provider. This may reduce your risk of hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia (high blood glucose).  

People with type 1 and type 2 diabetes who use a CGM have fewer instances of hypoglycemia and a lower A1C.
 

Obstacles to access CGMs

woman testing blood glucose on finger in bathroom, cgm on arm, cgm on stomach with results on smartphoneOne obstacle with CGMs is the cost of access to diabetes technology. Many people with diabetes who have put off getting an insulin pump or CGM, do so because they are too expensive.  

Another major obstacle is due to strict Medicaid coverage policies they are not accessible for people who need them. In fact, people with diabetes on Medicaid, especially in minority communities who use Medicaid, are the least likely to use a CGM. 

This is concerning since people with diabetes are more than twice as likely to receive their health care from Medicaid as those without diabetes.

Health Equity and Diabetes Technology: A Study of Access to Continuous Glucose Monitors by Payer, Geography and Race Executive Summary

The American Diabetes Association® (ADA) released a new study looking at pharmacy and medical benefit claims for CGMs across commercial insurance plans, Medicare and Medicaid and data on age, race, geography, and diabetes prevalence. The findings show people of lower income and older people of color who live in states with the highest rates of diabetes prevalence and mortality are the least likely to get access to a CGM. ADA is quite concerned about these findings, given the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on this population and the importance of tools like CGMs in diabetes management.

Learn more by viewing the study

The ADA is addressing the issue. We are partnering with people with diabetes, health care professionals, advocacy groups, and policy makers to address CGM access for those who use Medicaid. We’re advocating for CGM coverage and working to get rid of barriers to necessary diabetes technology so people can better manage their diabetes and experience fewer poor health outcomes and premature deaths.  

You Can Help

We need your help in eliminating these systemic barriers to CGMs! Soon, there will be an opportunity to get involved (depending on your state) with CGM Medicaid regulations and increased access to this technology.

If you are interested in providing comments and having your voice heard on behalf of people with diabetes, please provide your contact information below. 

        

Continuous Glucose Monitor (CGM) Studies

Continuous Glucose Monitor (CGM) Articles

Share your CGM story

Has your life been changed by wearing a Continuous Glucose Monitor (CGM)? If so we want to hear from you! CGMs are the new standard in diabetes care, and should be accessible to every person with diabetes.
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