Hungarian diabetics who fail to stick to their diet will be deprived of more modern treatments from July, under a government decree published Monday aimed at cutting health spending.
Diabetics undergo a blood test on average every three months and those who score high levels of glycemia more than twice a year could be turned away from treatments with analog insulin — more efficient but also more expensive — and left with the less efficient human insulin, under the new rules.
Currently, all diabetes treatments are subsidised by the state, which hopes to reduce health spending with the new rules.
The decree does not however apply to children under 18 and those in a life-threatening condition.
According to the decree in the Official Journal, drugs for Hungary’s 500,000 diabetics cost some 30 billion forints (100 million euros, $131.7 million) every year.
“Taxpayers’ money should not be spent on patients who don’t cooperate with their doctor,” it said.
Laszlo Bene, head of the diabetes department at Budapest’s Peterfy Sandor hospital, warned however that the short-term gains would be coupled with long-term financial pain caused by future spending on treating secondary effects that might follow the use of human insulin.
“Only 30 percent of patients are able to control their diet.”
“Discipline is not the only factor but also the lack of money for good quality foods,” he told the daily Nepszabadsag.
The national diabetes society backed the decree however.
“The analog insulin treatment should be used only for those who cannot achieve correct blood sugar levels… by other treatments,” the society’s president Gabor Winkler told Hungarian news agency MTI.
[A medical assistant holds an insulin pen administered to diabetes patients photo via AFP / Sajjad Hussain]