Interview about

April 21, 2021
Emma Zgonc
Ohio University
Emma Zgonc studies Sociology and is pursuing a Master of Global Health at Ohio University in Athens, OH. She will graduate in 2021. She was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at the age of 12. She is co-president of DOSES, OU’s CDN Chapter, a peer mentor for children with diabetes in the Athens area, and is a DPAC champion. She hopes to pursue a career in global health and advocate for those with diabetes and other chronic conditions worldwide.

Emma: What encouraged Insulet to launch Advocacy for Access?

Teresa Miller: One of the things that can be overwhelming for people with they are denied access to a pump (or other diabetes technology) is the advocacy process. We launched to make that process simpler and less intimidating. You can go to the site and depending upon whether you are advocating for yourself as an individual with diabetes, as a caregiver, supporter of someone with diabetes, or a healthcare professional, you can send an email or tweet at the insurance provider that has denied access to, in our case, the Omnipod DASH Insulin Management System. You enter your information, what type of diabetes you have, and choose your insurance provider from a drop-down list. We have a form email with sections that allow you to tell your personal story. “Telling your story” is an important part of advocacy especially when you are trying to convince an insurance company the product you is best for you. You need to make the insurance company see you as a person rather than a statistic.

Another thing we are really proud of on the site is a series of videos of people who tell their story of what it means to advocate. It is a really positive thing for someone who comes to the website because the insurance company is counting on you getting discouraged. When “the insurance company” says no they are counting on you to accept that. Those videos relay to anyone watching to not take no for an answer, keep on pushing. You will be successful!

Emma: What do you hope to see come out of the program?

“We want to see everyone get coverage.”

Teresa Miller: We want to see everyone get coverage. Insulet is not just about providing great technology. We hope to provide a service to the greater community because we believe people should have choice. People should be able to choose the technology that best meets their needs because we want people to have better health outcomes. We are looking to really push the issue of affordable access and this was a really good way for us to do that.

Emma: College students are often busy, and it can be challenging to juggle classes and diabetes. What advice do you have for college students specifically?

Teresa Miller: On the site are helpful tips. If you go to the site and are going to send an email we give advice on how to approach the email, including items to include in that email. We worked hard on that and were thinking from the position of someone who is advocating for coverage for the first time. Take a deep breath and tell your story.

Theresa Parsons: College students are more accustomed to using social media. Many of the insurance companies respond to twitter, especially if you have a lot of followers. You may be in a position to use twitter to make some noise. If you are good with social media, it is a way to more quickly get their attention. On the site we have the option to send a tweet.

Emma: What is one easy step everyone can do for better access?

“The best thing you can do to advocate is arm yourself with information. Knowledge is power.”

Teresa Miller: The best thing you can do to advocate is arm yourself with information. Knowledge is power. Arm yourself with the language that the insurance company uses and try to get a grasp of what that is. Become more familiar with that world because then you can operate better in it. The important thing is to not just to do it yourself but to get other people to advocate with you and that is where social media can be very powerful.

Theresa Parsons: It is a mindset that you are not going to be put down and you will not take no for an answer. Dealing with an insurance plan can be daunting but if you have the attitude that I am going to win and I will not give up, you will go much further.

Emma: What are some of the biggest issues preventing access to diabetes technology?

Teresa Miller: With respect to the technology it varies from insurance company to insurance company. One of the things we need to communicate is that we make an assumption that the insurance company understands what diabetes is and we cannot do that. When you are advocating you need to assume that they know nothing about diabetes. They don’t understand that diabetes is not a one size fits all disease. It is very different from person to person. This is why it is important people with diabetes have individualized treatment plans. Insurance companies really don’t understand that. That is one of the main roadblocks to people getting the technology that is best for suited for them.

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