For insulin-dependent diabetics, continued good health depends on proper dosage and timing of this essential hormone. People living with diabetes, either type 1 or type 2, know how important it is to get the right amount of insulin into their bodies at the proper time. Today, many diabetics use a basal-bolus routine of insulin injections to provide them with more stable blood glucose levels throughout the day and night.
Basal, or background insulin, is a longer acting form of insulin that keeps blood glucose levels stable during times when you are not eating. Even when you are fasting your body continues to release glucose into the blood. Basal insulin helps your cells use this glucose for energy.
Bolus insulin is a shorter acting insulin that helps control blood sugar levels at mealtime. Depending on your condition, the amount of carbohydrates you plan to eat, and your health care provider’s recommendation, you can take bolus insulin before, during, or after a meal.
By following a basal-bolus regimen of insulin injections, you can get the right kinds of insulin at the right times for a more natural release and greater control over blood glucose levels. A basal-bolus routine also allows for more flexibility at mealtimes, but it means more injections throughout the day unless you use a system like V-Go.
What is V-Go?
V-Go, made by the company Valeritas Inc., is a small, lightweight, wearable device that provides continuous delivery of a basal-bolus insulin regimen. Using a device like V-Go eliminates the need to self-inject insulin several times throughout the day.
If you are using the V-Go system, you fill a device with your prescribed insulin using a disposable filling accessory. You place the device on your skin as you would apply a patch. You put it in the same area where you would normally inject yourself with insulin. Once the device is in place, you push the start button.
Inside the device there are two mechanisms that provide both forms of insulin delivery. These mechanisms allow a steady release of basal insulin during periods of non-eating, and on-demand bolus insulin at mealtimes. You press the button when it is time for the bolus insulin to be released.
The V-Go device weighs about one ounce when full and it is small enough to fit comfortably under clothing without noticing.
If you are interested in V-Go, or your health care provider has mentioned this sort of insulin delivery system for you, you may want to know whether your Medicare insurance covers the cost. Here is some information that may help you decide if V-Go is right for you.
Medicare Coverage for V-Go?
If you do not have a Medicare insurance plan to cover prescription drugs, you may end up paying the national average price of $250.00 for a one-month supply (30 units) of the V-Go brand disposable insulin delivery devices. The supply of insulin is not included in the average price. You must fill and replace the device with a new one every 24 hours.
If you have Original Medicare and have enrolled in a Part D plan, which is prescription drug coverage, or a Medicare Advantage plan that also has a prescription drug plan, you may have coverage for disposable insulin delivery devices like the V-Go system.
Prescription drug programs vary in cost and coverage. If you haven’t enrolled yet and know you need to use a V-Go device, you can check a plan’s formulary (list of drugs that the plan allows).
Your out-of-pocket costs depend on where you purchase your drug or device. It also depends on which tier your Part D policy places it. Tier one is for generic prescription drugs and carry the lowest copayment Tier two carries a medium copayment and includes preferred name-brand prescription drugs. Tier three has a higher copayment and includes non-preferred, brand-name prescription medications.
Your final cost for a device like V-Go depends on whether your plan has a deductible and if you pay a copayment (set amount), or coinsurance (set percentage of the cost of the drug).
Disposable insulin delivery devices like V-Go may not be suitable for everyone, but if your health care provider suggests that it would work to control your blood glucose levels optimally, it may be worth looking into whether your Medicare prescription drug plan includes it in its coverage.