The reimbursement of diabetes blood sugar test kits for the elderly has not yet been implemented, although there was a commitment from the government in 2019. This is officially accepted for Faktoje by the Compulsory Health Insurance Fund (FSDKSH), but also confirmed by the head of the Association of Diabetics and the pensioners. The latter indicate that with the pensions they receive, the cost of buying diabetes blood sugar test kits is high for them.

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“We are exploring the possibility of extending the coverage to pensioners as well”, promised the Minister of Health Ogerta Manastirliu in 2019.

Three years later, the minister pledged again to provide free diabetes kits for the third age. “We will make it possible for pensioners, the most vulnerable groups, those pensioners who have low pensions, so they can access a list of medical supplies, such as diabetes kits”, declared Manastirliu, without giving a clear deadline . But to what extent has this commitment of the government been fulfilled? Faktoje first addressed a request for information to the Compulsory Health Insurance Fund, which we asked whether the reimbursement of diabetes kits for the elderly had started.

Request for information sent to FSDKSH, October 5, 2022

In its official reply to Faktoje, the FSDKSH clarifies that currently diabetes insurance is reimbursed for two groups of patients: children 1-18 years old and students 18-25 years old. However, they add that the expansion of the reimbursement scheme for drugs and medical equipment, including diabetes kits for pensioners, will be subject to the evaluation of technical commissions.

“Medical devices, including diabetes kits, are part of the reimbursement scheme from the Compulsory Healthcare Insurance Fund from 2018.

The current list of reimbursed medical equipment was approved by Decision of the Council of Ministers, No. 229 dated 13.04.2022. Based on this decision, diabetes kits are reimbursed for two groups of patients: children 1-18 years old and students 18-25 years old.

The expansion of the reimbursement scheme for medicines and medical equipment, including diabetes kits for pensioners, remains a priority of the work of the FSDKSH and will be subject to the evaluation of the technical commissions.

Regarding the category of pensioners, it is a priority to treat chronic diseases through the therapies defined in the List of Reimbursable Medicines, where the treatment for diabetic diseases is complete and offered free of charge to everyone”, explains the FSDKSH.

Regarding this promise, Faktoje contacted doctor Florian Toti, President of the Diabetes Association in Albania. He announced that this has been discussed since 2019 and that there are 20 thousand pensioners with diabetes in Albania.

“This issue has been discussed since 2019, but due to the earthquake and the pandemic, it was suspended. There are 20 thousand pensioners with diabetes and the question I raised for the Ministry of Health then was: Can you afford it? The proposal we made was to at least benefit disabled people and veterans”, says doctor Toti for Faktoje.

He added that they still do not have an official document for the reimbursement of diabetes kits for the third age.

How much do diabetes pills cost a pensioner? A 65-year-old woman, who needs 2 of these every day, says that the monthly cost is at least 3 thousand new lek.

“I need 2 kits a day and one kit costs 50 ALL. For me, a pensioner who gets a pension of 18,000 lek, and who has to pay for water, electricity, and other medications, the cost of the blood sugar test kits is too high,” she says.

Faktoje also asked some pharmacies about the costs of diabetes blood sugar test kits.

“Blood sugar test kits have different prices. We have kits with 50 units that cost 1,800 new lek and other packages, which have 50 units and cost 2,600 lek”, says a pharmacist.

In May 2019, the Minister of Health Ogerta Manastriliu announced the distribution of free diabetes blood sugar test kits for students and young people up to 25 years old affected by this disease. At that time, the minister said that this has saved Albanian families 12 thousand new lek per month.

“After the reimbursement of diabetes blood sugar test kits for children up to 18 years old, now the kits for measuring glycemia are free for students and all young people with diabetes up to the age of 25. Not only do we save every family 12,000 new lek per month, but a better quality of life is ensured for these children and young people”, declared Manastriliu three years ago.

Based on the verification carried out and the information gathered, we decided not to categorize Minister Manastirliu’s statement of 2019. The promise made this year to provide free kits for pensioners will be monitored by Faktoje in the future.

*Main photo taken from the web