How Much is that Pumpy in the Window? Cortisol Pumping Costs in Australia

I’m two months into cortisol pumping and have only recently found out all of my out of pocket costs – clearly not ideal informed consent. This has been partly due to misinformation (“you’ll need to pay for everything yourself” misadvised one doctor), partly due to uncertainty of funding (e.g. the final insurance approval occurred two months after receipt of my pump), and partly because I was a trail-blazing guinea-pig (see picture above).

Although your costs may differ from mine depending on your individual circumstances and preferences for bumbags with dragon scales, I hope this information is better than the nothing that I started with.

I discuss alternative avenues for funding/purchase here under the pump-objection “it will be expensive for you”.

Note that I’m based in Australia. All costs are provided in Australian dollars, and are based on available rebates in Australia.

Set-up Costs

Pump – $0

My private health insurer paid for my Medtronic Mini-Med 670G pump. Yep, the whole $9k. Whoop-whoop.

Quick-Serter – $56

The Paradigm Quick-Set infusion sets I’m currently using don’t have a built-in automatic shoot-the-needle-into-your-skin-thingy. Instead, you need to buy this separate reusable device. I like that it reduces plastic waste.

Pump Bands – $250ish

I’ve been like Goldilocks, trying different pump holding solutions and finding that some are too soft (they are great for sleeping but stretch too much and the pump falls out) and some are too hard (they are size adjustable but have hard plastic buckles and can be difficult to wash):

  • 4 lycra waist bands – $30 each. See: https://www.diabete-ezy.com/insulin-pump-accessories
  • A “Spi belt” with an extended sized pouch – $35. See: https://www.injinjiperformanceshop.com.au
  • A pair of Body Bands with window – $70. I just switched over to using these. Love that they are both adjustable and comfortable. See: http://www.hid-in.com/
  • A hippie waist bag I bought at a market – $30. I also splurged on a leather festival/doof belt with little dragon scales. These two give my body a break from having a brick pressed against the skin 24/7, work better with some dresses and they look cool.

Pump Alert Sticker – $16

The blue text on my pump that reads “Solucortef Pump, Do Not Remove, Adrenal Insufficiency” is a sticker/skin. I designed it using the custom option on this US website, I could input my pump model and they made it to fit: https://pumppeelz.com/

Medical ID Band – $43

I updated my existing medical ID bracelet to include the line “wears pump for cortisol”. I get mine from US website Road ID: https://www.roadid.com/

Healthcare Costs – $1000+

  • Two appointments with an endocrinologist for the pump-start – $100 (after Medicare rebate).
  • Two appointments with a Diabetes Educator for the pump-start – $0 (using a Medicare GP Care Team Plan).
  • Because I couldn’t find a local endo to support cortisol pumping: The travel costs of two interstate trips for myself and my partner/carer for testing, appointments and pump start – $? (no healthcare funding available).
  • Private health insurance excess for admission to a private hospital for testing – $500.
  • Pathology testing – $0 (bulkbilled by Medicare).

Running Costs

Consumables – $50 a month

Consumables are the infusion sets and reservoirs; the pump supplies that you change every few days. Medtronic have given me a grant that reduces the cost of these supplies from over $1000 for approximately 3 month’s supply to $150. Big yay.

Solu-Cortef – $40 a month

Solu-cortef (liquid hydrocortisone) on private prescription costs $68 for 6 bottles of 250mg act-o-vials. I claim back $28 per script via my private health extras insurance, making my out of pocket cost $40 for 6 bottles. Given that I now routinely change my reservoir every 5 days (instead of the 3 I started off doing), 1 script of 6 bottles neatly lasts me one month.

Injection Equipment – $12 per month

  • Needles (23G and 25G) and syringes (3ml) – free from a local needle and syringe program.
  • Sterile water – $0.50 per bottle from a local needle and syringe program.
  • Sharps disposal bin – free from local Council.
  • “Skin prep wipes” – $0.70 each. These clean my skin before insertion of the cannula, and create a film barrier on my skin that reduces reactions to the adhesive tape and improves adhesion. From: https://store.independenceaustralia.com/

Portable Contents Insurance – $200 per year

I wanted insurance coverage for my pump in case of accident or theft at home or whilst on holiday – I pictured dropping the pump in the floor or having my beach bag stolen with the pump inside. After a lot of digging around in fine print of different policies, I shifted our home and contents insurance to Allianz and listed the pump under specified portables cover.

Healthcare Costs- $?

  • Because I couldn’t find a local endocrinologist to support cortisol pumping: Skype appointments with an interstate endocrinologist – $100 each (no Medicare rebate is available for non-rural telehealth patients). Plus future travel costs for trips to see my endocrinologist face-to-face – $? (no healthcare funding available).
  • Appointments with my GP to treat dermatitis from the set’s adhesive tape and for ongoing solu-cortef scripts – $30 each visit (after Medicare rebate).
  • Pathology testing – $0 (bulkbilled by Medicare).

Other Bits and Bobs

Advertisements

6 thoughts on “How Much is that Pumpy in the Window? Cortisol Pumping Costs in Australia

  1. Thanks Charlie – very useful info. Have recently started following your journey to getting a cortisol pump (and hopefully eventually getting one myself). Glad to see it appears to be working for you – although still early days. Will look forward to the next update – any chance of a brief comparison of your well-being prior & post starting pumping? Stay well.

    Like

    1. Hi Kathy. Thanks for following my journey! I hope it makes yours a little easier. I’ve just finished writing my next post about how I got a cortisol pump – I’ll publish this in the next couple of days.

      I’m also nearly finished writing a detailed account about how the first days, weeks and months have been with the pump. I’ll make sure to add a reflection at the end comparing well-being before and after pumping. Thanks for the feedback.

      Like

  2. Hi Charlie!

    I am also following your ‘pump journey’ as I would also like to try it. Unfortunately my endo doesn’t really believe in using cortisol pumps but I’m sure she could be swayed if she could talk to another endo who is using them on their patients. So I was just wondering if you would be able to tell me the name of your endo. I am in Sydney Australia.

    I’m finding your posts very useful and love that they are open and honest! Keep posting!

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s