What is Type 1 Diabetes?

Victoria Burke by Victoria Burke | Licensed since 2011
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This article was updated on: 09/15/2018

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 Diabetes is a health disorder involving a high amount of glucose, or blood sugar, in your blood, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). There are several types of diabetes, but the most common are known as type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

Type 1 diabetes is also known as juvenile diabetes or insulin-dependent diabetes, and the CDC reports that although it’s less common than type 2 diabetes, it still affects many Americans.

What is diabetes?

Normally, blood sugar levels are delivered to cells by the hormone insulin, which the body produces, reports the CDC. But if you have diabetes, either your body isn’t making enough insulin or it isn’t using it well.

When you have type 1 diabetes, your body typically doesn’t make insulin, according to the National Institutes of Health publication Medline Plus. If your pancreas is unable to make insulin, your blood sugar level can rise to dangerous levels, potentially causing serious damage to other organs in the body.

Type 2 diabetes is much more common than type 1. The CDC reports that around 5% of people with diabetes may have type 1 compared to around 95% that may have type 2. The causes of type 1 diabetes are not entirely clear, but the CDC states they’re different from the causes of type 2 diabetes.

If you have type 1 diabetes, you will always need to take insulin, according to MedLine Plus.

What are type 1 diabetes symptoms?

According to the National Institutes of Health publication Medline Plus, type 1 diabetes symptoms often develop rapidly and may include:

  • Increased thirst
  • Frequent urination
  • Frequent hunger
  • Unintentional weight loss
  • Weakness, fatigue
  • Blurry vision
  • Sores that our slow to heal

Please keep in mind that not everyone affected with diabetes type 1 will experience all of these signs and symptoms of the disease, and that there may be other symptoms besides these.

What complications can type 1 diabetes cause?

Diabetes is a serious disease and potentially life-threatening complications can develop over time, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports. You may be able to reduce your risk of getting these complications, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Taking insulin, as directed by your doctor, to control your blood sugar may help you manage this disease.  According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), common complications of diabetes type 1 can include:

  • Heart disease
  • Blindness
  • Nerve damage – for example, to your feet
  • Kidney damage and chronic kidney disease
  • Tooth loss and gum disease
  • Bone and joint disorders

What Medicare coverage is available for type 1 diabetes?

Medicare Part B generally covers certain screening tests and exams to help your doctor determine whether you have type 1 diabetes, and identify your risk for complications from the disease. In some cases, you may also be covered under Part B for nutritional counseling and diabetes self-management classes to help you control your disease and minimize your risk of complications.

Keep in mind that even if Medicare Part B fully covers certain screening tests and diabetes- related services, you may still have out-of-pocket costs to pay, such as a 20% coinsurance amount for an office visit.

Medicare Part B may cover blood sugar monitoring equipment and supplies, such as glucose monitors, test strips, lancets, and glucose control solutions. You typically pay 20% of Medicare-approved costs for these supplies as long as they come from Medicare-approved suppliers.  If you live in a part of the country covered by the Competitive Bidding Program, a Medicare cost-containment program, you must purchase eligible supplies from a vendor specially contracted with Medicare in order to be covered.

Medicare Part B doesn’t always cover insulin, which is necessary for treating diabetes type 1. Generally Part B may cover insulin if your doctor decides that an insulin pump is medically necessary for your condition. However, insulin may be covered under a stand-alone Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Plan or a Medicare Advantage Prescription Drug plan. These plans are offered by private insurance companies approved by Medicare. Medicare Advantage plans sometimes provide additional benefits not available under Original Medicare. While they must cover everything Original Medicare does (except hospice care, which is covered under Part A), they might also include coverage for prescription drugs such as insulin, as well as for services such as routine vision, dental, and hearing care.

Please keep in mind that Medicare Prescription Drug Plans each use a formulary, or list of approved medications, in determining eligibility for coverage; before you choose a plan, be sure to check that your medications are included in the formulary to minimize your out-of-pocket costs. A plan’s formulary may change at any time. You will receive notice from your plan when necessary. If you choose to enroll in one of these plans, you must continue to pay your monthly Part B premium.

I’d like to help you understand your Medicare options for type 1 diabetes. You can request information via email or schedule a telephone call by clicking the appropriate link below. To view plans in your area you may be eligible for, click the “Compare Plans” button.

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