Diabetes management plans often include many different elements: monitoring blood pressure, adjusting diet, and protecting feet to name a few.
Medicare and most insurance plans respond to these needs by covering health services for people with diabetes. Combined with coverage for medical equipment (such as diabetic shoes) and medications, regular appointments with these professionals can make a big difference for diabetes management. Here are the 5 professionals that are worth adding to any diabetes care plan.
1) Your family doctor (MD).
We started with this professional because they are the absolute foundation of any diabetes treatment plan. According to Cleveland Clinic, insulin-dependent people with diabetes should see their doctors at least once every 3-4 months, while once every 5-6 months will usually suffice for those treated by pills.
Making the most of these appointments is critical. Something that seems small, such as mild foot pain or lower stamina, could be serious when diabetes is involved. To ensure your bases are covered, provide your doctor with all detailed information they may need at each appointment. This includes recent glucose readings, dietary or exercise changes, and reports of any pain or health challenges (however mild they may seem).
If your doctor recommends any durable medical equipment to help with your diabetes management, such as diabetic shoes or a continuous glucose monitor, be sure to ask them about what paperwork you will need to submit for Medicare coverage. Suppliers like nocostshoes.com can also fax the necessary forms to your doctor prior to ordering, but it can help to bring this up at appointments as well.
2) An optometrist/ophthamologist
To understand why seeing an eye care specialist is important, look no further than the statistics on diabetes and eye disease. Diabetic retinopathy is the leading cause of blindness in U.S. adults. As of 2010, 7.69 million Americans had reported a case of diabetic retinopathy, a number which continues to steadily increase each year.
The functioning of eyes is greatly affected by the functioning of blood vessels – in fact, it is not uncommon for an optometrist to identify the first symptoms of diabetes. For this reason, Medicare covers annual diabetic retinopathy exams. Making and keeping these appointments is important in protecting eyesight for individuals who have diabetes.
3) A podiatrist.
Serious foot issues and amputation is one of the lesser-known risks of diabetes, though ignoring it can lead to devastating consequences. With diabetic neuropathy, even small foot injuries can become quite serious over time.
To prevent these extreme consequences, Medicare extends coverage for a foot exam once every six months to those with diabetes-related nerve damage. In addition, Medicare often covers diabetic shoes through nocostshoes.com for qualifying individuals. This care protects feet as well as improving your comfort and quality of life as you move through your day.
4) Diabetic Self-Management Training (DSMT)
Managing diabetes often requires significant life changes. Many of these changes must be managed by the individual with the diagnosis, which is why Diabetic Self- Management Training is such an important tool.
In the first year, Medicare may cover up to one hour of individual training and up to nine hours of group training. Following that, 2 hours of follow-up training per year may be covered. This training must be conducted by a certified individual and be deemed necessary by your doctor in order for coverage to be offered. Fortunately, most doctors will deem DSMT a necessary service for their patients, especially those who struggle with some aspects of adapting to life with diabetes. The one-on-one training option is particularly helpful for those struggling with particular aspects of diabetes management.
5) A registered dietician.
Along with diabetic self-management training, a dietician can help people understand how best to adapt their diet following a diabetes diagnosis. Since food is such an important aspect of diabetes management, Medicare has extended additional coverage to help those who need a registered dietician as they transition into this new lifestyle.
Depending on what is deemed “medically necessary” by your family doctor, this coverage could entitle you to a nutrition and lifestyle assessment, individual support and/or group nutrition therapy services, and follow-up appointments. A dietician can clarify the best eating choices for your health and educate you on proper nutrition to improve your health going forward.
Need more support? Proper communication with your family doctor is the key.
There are many different health care services and equipment that can help you to manage diabetes. Medicare or insurance coverage of these things is often contingent on your doctor filling out a Certificate of Medical Necessity. To determine what is medically required for your care, they need to have all the information in front of them.
So, if you are struggling with diabetes self-care, eating changes, or foot/eye issues, be honest and let your doctor know! There are many things they can do to help you access additional care.
For information on diabetic shoes and durable medical equipment covered by Medicare, visit nocostshoes.com.