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Diabetes and supplemental insurance? Yeah, right

We've heard time after time how diabetes affects every aspect of our lives. We can't turn it off, we don't get a break and it is never ending. From medicines to exercise, doctor's appointments to carbohydrate counts, diabetes takes plenty of energy to manage. In turn, exhaustion can set in -- not only physical, but mental as well.

For many individuals, the emotional side of this disease is something many people ignore until it rears its ugly head. Sometimes we don't even realize how diabetes affects our emotions until we stop and consider why we are upset about something.

Take the other day for example.

Insurance discrimination: 1, Diabetics: 0

I am thankful that my job offers health insurance. I pay a little out of pocket, but it is nothing to complain about. My employer also offers supplemental insurance, and we just recently had a meeting with a representative from this insurance company to discuss programs available to us.

She talked about additional coverage for different life events that could potentially cause great challenges for us and our families. Her presentation talked about how supplemental insurance could help when things occurred in our lives we didn't expect. Things like falling down and breaking a bone requiring hospitalization, needing glasses, cancer treatment, or even death.

This coverage would provide money to us when any of these unfortunate things happened. So even though our health insurance would put a cast on a broken arm, this insurance would send us some money to help with other things -- like ordering dinner and having it delivered since cooking with a broken arm is difficult. It all sounds great at this point.

Each employee was given time to meet with the representative to discuss our options, but, being someone living with diabetes, I had a feeling my meeting was not going to go well.

When I sat down she asked me if I would be interested in signing up for any of the insurance programs, to which I replied, "I would love to but I doubt you will cover me."

She seemed to think they could cover me for some programs even though I told her I had diabetes. She started checking into each program. First there was the hospitalization coverage, which would not cover me due to my diabetes being a pre-existing condition. Then one covering heart attack and stroke, which also would not cover me. With each answer I found myself getting more and more angry.

"I am sure we can get you on the vision program," she reasoned. Her confidence surprised me.

I said, "There is no way I will be accepted. One of the major complications of diabetes is vision loss." She fumbled through her paperwork and let out a sigh when she saw that I was correct.

"You know," I continued, "I have to tell you, it is really hard to listen to all these great programs that I cannot take advantage of through no fault of my own. It's upsetting. It's actually depressing." I am still not sure why I said it. Maybe because I was so disappointed or maybe because I thought of all the other people like me who have had to sit through the same presentation only to be let down.

In the end I am glad I spoke up. All of this could have been avoided had I known from the beginning that I would not qualify. Hopefully in the future someone else will not feel the letdown I did.

About George Simmons

George Simmons is a husband and father of two who has been living with type 1 diabetes for over 20 years.

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