Responses to UHC Decision on Pump Choice

News broke May 3 that United Healthcare will make Medtronic its "preferred brand" of insulin pump for exclusive in-network coverage starting July 1, 2016. That restriction of choice prompted outrage from thousands in the Diabetes Community, and we've been gauging the responses since then.

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  1. Tandem was the first to break the news with a press release:
  2. UnitedHealthcare Explains...

  3. We received an email from Kristen A. Hellmer of UHC Corporate Communications, stating the following (bold added by us):
  4. “United Healthcare and Medtronic are working together to better serve people with diabetes by combining their collective resources, data and expertise. This will include assessing how the combination of advanced technologies and patient support programs can improve care plans for individuals using insulin pumps.”
  5. "Our two companies will work together to help advance diabetes care, and we aspire to bring a value-based approach to diabetes care that tracks clinical outcomes for UnitedHealthcare members on insulin pumps and places greater focus on quality rather than the volume of care delivered.
  6. "The majority of UnitedHealthcare members using insulin pumps today already use a MiniMed device from Medtronic. Currently, there are fewer than 15,000 UHC members nationwide using non-Medtronic pumps.
  7. "There is no immediate change to a UnitedHealthcare member’s current pump. Members will continue using their current insulin pumps until the insulin pump is out of warranty and needs to be replaced. This agreement is for durable insulin pumps only (and does not affect OmniPod users)."
  8. "There may be exceptions if clinical indications support use of an insulin pump other than Medtronic Minimed. These cases will be determined one-on-one with the prescribing physician and if approved would be covered at the in-network benefit level."
  9. Medtronic's POV

  10. We also asked Medtronic for their POV, and company spokeswoman Amanda Sheldon offered this very general statement, positioning the deal with United as "an innovative partnership" (?):
  11. "As part of our mission to improve outcomes for people living with diabetes, Medtronic recently entered into an innovative partnership with UnitedHealthcare that unifies the resources and expertise of both organizations to better serve the needs of people living with diabetes.

    "Medtronic will be UnitedHealthcare’s preferred in-network provider of insulin pumps, giving UnitedHealthcare members access to our advanced diabetes technology and comprehensive support services. Medtronic offers the MiniMed 530G insulin pump system with SmartGuard technology – the only system on the market that reduces the risk of dangerous lows and can take action if a person is unable to respond. This is the only system on the market that can reduce the risk of dangerous lows without increasing A1C.

    "In addition, our two companies will work together to help advance diabetes care and find new ways to analyze the total cost of care for diabetes management, including how advanced technologies and patient support can improve individuals’ care plans. We aspire to bring a value-based approach to diabetes care that tracks clinical outcomes for UnitedHealthcare members on insulin pumps and places greater focus on quality rather than the volume of care delivered.

    "For over 30 years, Medtronic has focused on improving patient care by providing technology and services that can result in the best possible outcomes for people with diabetes. We view this partnership as an important step that can accelerate our ability to fulfill our vision of transforming diabetes care so that people with diabetes can live with greater freedom and better health."

  12. The Diabetes Community Responds!

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