We have gathered info, listened to sales pitches, tried things out, made and received countless phone calls regarding insurance, and.......now we wait. Leah has made her decision, but we await the final answer on insurance. Leah really liked the idea of the OmniPod (the tubeless pump), and got input from her classmate who wears one, as well as our friends at church. While she liked the idea of a tubeless pump, she was most impressed by the insertion of the pods, which she had heard was as painful as a finger prick (not too bad), while the insertion of the t:slim's infusion set would feel like a bee sting. At the Pediatric Clinic, she had seen a longer needle on a sample infusion set for the t:slim, and it kind of freaked her out. Even though she's been a real trooper over the past months through countless finger pricks and injections, she still hates needles and pain (imagine that!).
I, on the other hand, had begun receiving phone calls from the different companies, and for me the t:slim was gaining the lead over the Omnipod. Here's why:
Sales Rep Calls: Insulet's rep began by telling me all the reasons we'd want an OmniPod and nothing else. Tandem's rep asked me what questions I had, did point out some of the disadvantages of the OmniPod, but in the end said "No matter which pump you choose, you will be doing the right thing." I don't like pushy sales people. t:slim: 1 pnt.
Contacts: I told both companies the best way to reach me was by email or cell phone. Insulet's insurance rep, even after a couple of requests, left three messages on our home phone. It's just frustrating to come home and find a message waiting, and realize it's too late in the day to call the person back. The Insurance rep from Tandem called my cell phone and left a voicemail. When I had a break at work, I returned his call and got his direct line which he answered. I like people who are easily accessible. t:slim: 1 pnt.
Insurance Rep assistance: In my first contact with Tandem I was told that the t:slim would be covered at 100%, as well as the monthly supplies (infusion sets and cartridges). Although there were still details and contracts to be ironed out, this sounded very positive. In contrast, the rep from Insulet told me we had no coverage and would have to pay out-of-pocket. These costs, when I added them all up over the next five years, roughly equaled the cost of a year of college! When I asked the rep if he could look into this again (because this is not what I had been told previously by our insurance company) he told me he'd do that AFTER we had decided that the OmniPod was the pump we wanted. Hmmmm...so in other words, he wanted me to let my daughter decide she really wanted this pump, only to find out she couldn't have it because of the cost. FINALLY, after going over this scenario with him several times, he agreed to call the insurance company back. He was NOT very helpful, or friendly. I like helpful, friendly people. t:slim: 1 pnt.
So...this past Tuesday, the score for me was:
Tandem t:slim: 3....Insulet OmniPod: 0.
I gave Leah the facts that I had learned, but tried not to give her my opinions. I really wanted
to make this decision, and find the pump that she was most comfortable with. Tuesday evening, Tandem's sales rep came to our house to demonstrate the T-slim and set Leah up with a trial device. We were all impressed with the many high-tech features of this pump that looked like a mini iPhone. Then came the time for the real test. Leah was shown how to insert an infusion set. She placed the device on her belly, pinched the housing, and we heard the "snap" as it shot the needle into her skin. I held my breath...and then asked Leah, "well....how was it?" She grinned and said, "I didn't feel anything." We like things that don't hurt.
T-Slim: 1 pnt.
The next morning after her breakfast, Leah walked into my room with a broad smile on her face, saying "It only took me about 10 seconds to punch in my numbers on the t:slim!" She was quite impressed at the ease of which she might be able to deliver her insulin in the future. When I picked her up after school, she said, "Mom, I hate this pump!" My thoughts: Whaaatt??? Oh no. And then, "JK. I love it!!" Whew! I asked if she still wanted to try out the OmniPod, and she wasn't sure.
Over the next couple of days she decided: No. She really didn't care to try the OmniPod. There were issues we had heard about, such as the pods getting bumped off and having to be disposed of along with the unused insulin, as well as the annoying push-button scrolling through menus. Leah had also gotten over her discomfort with the t:slim. The insertion didn't hurt, the tubing was no big deal, and the device was easy to wear and no problem while sleeping. We like things that make Leah smile. t:slim: 1 pnt.
So now, the score is... Tandem t:slim: 5....Insulet OmniPod: 0
For Leah, the choice seems obvious now. That's not to say the OmniPod (or the the Paradigm Revel or the One Touch Ping or the many others) isn't the obvious choice for other persons with diabetes, or that the choice might be different for Leah at sometime in the future. (Granted, she didn't even try the OmniPod, and may have loved it if she had...as the Tandem rep said, "No matter which pump you choose, you'll be doing the right thing!") Something that will be attached to one's body and acting as one's pancreas 24 hours a day is a very personal choice. It was nice for us to have a clear answer on this complicated, important decision. Now we are just praying that the insurance will actually come through. We're hoping to announce a winner in the coming days!