Minilink Continuous Glucose Sensor Investment

If you didn't know, I have been a type 1 diabetic since the age of 10. I use a Minimed Paradigm insulin pump which basically pumps small amounts of insulin into your system throughout the day helping you keep better control of your blood sugar. I love the pump, it is the best investment my parents ever made for me.

A few weeks ago, Medtronic, the company that makes the insulin pump announced its second generation continous glucose sensor that works with my insulin pump. The breakthrough technology allows you to get a blood sugar reading every 5 minutes, 24 hours a day. For those that are famaliar with diabetes management, this is a big deal. You can read more here about diabetes management technologies.

No, thats not my belly -- mine is much more hairer than that

Last year, I decided I needed this continous glucose sensor to help improve my control of my diabetes. This wasn't an easy decision - the device and sensors are not covered by insurance. A starter kit costs $999, and you need a new sensor every 3 day (at a cost of $35/sensor). I decided to set aside an extra $1,000 in my 2007 healthcare flexible spending account to make the initial investment. However, it really boils down to a easy decision for me - what are my priorities? They are in an order something like this.....

Personal Health
Financial Freedom

So the decision is simple - my health is a worthy investment. Luckily I have the financial means to do this. Many don't. To this end I also made a donation the same day I ordered the Minilink to JDRF to support their effort to push for coverage by insurance companies for this technology.

I have been using the Minilink for a couple days now and I am amazed by it. I love it. Its not a cure, but its another tool to achieve better control of my diabetes. As as example look at this chart:

Those red dots are the type of data I use to have to make treatment decisions. Now I have the whole blue line of data. Makes a world of difference in my opinion. Given that a frugal guy like me recognizes that this therapy is worth the cost, hopefully insurance companies will do the same.

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Comments (9)

Congrats on the new technology/sensor purchase. I too have a Minimed pump (pump therapy for about 15 years now). Haven't yet committed to the sensor, but will wait another 3 months to see where they're at. Have been lobbying my health insurance for it. Please keep posting on the status of the CGMS system, as your priorities are very similar to mine.
On a similar note, I know that some are re-using the sensors: removing them, cleaning the sensor needle/canula and then reinserting. Supposedly the platinum needle used in the sensor is good for a few reuses. I don't know if I'd try it, but other have been using them for about 3-re-inserts and had good luck with the their readings. Best of luck.


wow $35 every 3 days seems like an awful lot - but I agree definitely worth it. I imagine there must be some way to to extend the life and reuse as JK suggest. The problem with so many medical devices is there never designed with cost in mind. Either insurance picks it up or people are relatively insensitive to cost. Tha

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Even though you have been diabetic for quite some time, this research may nevertheless be something to keep your eye on, re: future developments.

Very interesting post. My daughter, age 17, has had type 1 diabetes since she was 2. She uses a Paradigm 715. I am interested in her getting the continous glucose monitor--but it's too pricey right now. Would love to hear updates as to how you are liking it--and congratulations!

Thanks for your post on the Minimed Paradigm Real time system. I went to a meeting last night run by a Minimed rep and she said she had patients using the sensor for 7 days straight with no issues (not reusing the same sensor - but just leaving it in for 7 days). I am excited about it, but I think I'll wait a little longer before I get it because I'm worried about the accuracy. How do find it compares to your blood glucose readings? How difficult is the calibration? Thank you.

I took an health economics class about two quarters ago and it open my eyes to the health system in America.

One of the things we covered was diabetes. The thing is that diabetes is a life long disease so in the long run for insurance companies it's bad business. In other words the cost to treat diabetes over a life time is very costly to insurance companies, compare to paying an up front cost for a broken arm or leg. Which is why they refuse to cover such devices. They'll pay for amputation or major operations, but they wont pay for minor treatments like sensors or testing devices. The small cost to them is not profitable because over the long run they can't break even or make a profit.

How about the CGM transmitters, currently the device last 6 -> 9 months before the batteries fail, then you are forced to cough up another $600.00 for a new transmitter. I wonder if it is possible to replace the batteries, allthough I'm sure that minimed has figured out a way to prevent one from doing this, probably a custom battery in a potable case (encased in epoxy)?

I just ordered my CGMS from Minimed after winning an appeal with my insurance company. They will actually be covering this unit and supplies 100% under my durable medical equipment clause on my policy. It took work, but by next year it should be easier to get insurance to cover. After 24 years, it's great to be able to fill in the blanks. Thanks for discussing.

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