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Navigating the Diabetes Care Landscape

Nowadays, searching for the right medical care is much more complicated than simply picking the right physician. Many barriers stand in the way of good medical care, and chief among them is navigating the complex organization of resources that insurance providers make available to insured people.

People with diabetes face an even more significant challenge when trying to build a good healthcare team. In addition to finding the right primary care physician with enough experience to understand the special needs of people with diabetes, it’s also necessary to make sure they can refer you to specialists that will work together to provide the most comprehensive care possible, and prevent complications.

So what can you do to figure out how to make the healthcare system work for you? Start with these 3 easy tips.

Be your own diabetes advocate. Perhaps the single most important aspect of getting the right medical care these days is being able to ask for the service you deserve. Try to find an insurer that supports preventive measures so that you don’t have to worry about long-term complications. Preventive measures can include diabetes education sessions with a Certified Diabetes Educator, meeting with a dietitian, or scheduling a session with an exercise physiologist in order to get advice on meeting fitness goals. All of these educational offerings are available at The Joslin Diabetes Center.

Visualize "the big picture." Diabetes affects all aspects of your life, from your kidneys to blood pressure and vision. It is important that your healthcare providers understand that they need to stay in touch about your care. "What we’re really advocating is a holistic approach, focused on preventing problems," says Dr. Richard Jackson, of the Joslin Diabetes Center. At Joslin, this kind of care is standard. If you’re not able to visit Joslin or one of its 13 affiliates, try finding a primary care physician who can refer you to a diabetes specialist in your area.

Understand your health coverage. This may sound simple, but if you have to select a new health plan for any reason, you should make sure that your current physician is in your network, or find someone in the new network that comes recommended. If you have questions, talk to your insurance provider, or speak with your current healthcare team to see if they take your new insurance.

Questions to Ask New Insurance Providers

What co-pays and deductibles are required in the health plan I am considering?  How do these differ with  physicians I may see who are "out of network?"

Does my new insurance plan cover such things as diabetes education, weight loss programs, or appointments with dietitians, such as those offered at Joslin?

What coverage is provided for medical supplies such as blood sugar monitoring equipment and supplies?

Page last updated: April 23, 2014