Diagnosing diabetes with the A1C may mean you’re cured!

A fellow type 1 friend of mine was trying to get a CGM to better control her blood sugar. 

She’s had diabetes for more than two decades. Her blood sugar bounces from high to low often enough that her doctor felt a CGM would be extremely helpful, even though her A1C is just below the American Diabetes Association recommended 7%. 

Of course the A1C is an average of your last two to three month’s worth of blood sugars. That means you can have lots of blood sugars around 250 mg/dl and lots around 50 mg/dl, and average out at 150 mg/dl – just below an A1C of 7%. 

While this averaging game is nothing new to me, what was new to me is that her insurance company would not cover a CGM because the liaison between the insurance company and the CGM company said my friend’s diabetes was cured. Why? Her A1C is under 7%. 

My friend’s doctor told her he’s seen this coming ever since companies decided to diagnose type 2 diabetes with the A1C test. The American Diabetes Association has recently recommended this along with an international committee from several other diabetes organizations including the International Diabetes Federation and the European Association for the Study of Diabetes.

One main advantage they cite for using the A1C test to diagnose diabetes is that it can be taken any time of day, and without fasting. 

Yet, at what cost does this come? If an A1C of 7% or above will mean you have diabetes then will insurance companies say a well-controlled diabetic, who has an A1C under 7%, does not have diabetes? If that’s the case then I’ve been cured for years and didn’t know it. Funny, though I still experience hypos and highs no non-diabetic gets.

Will patients lose having tools that could help them better manage their diabetes with this diagnosing criteria? I know one who already has. 

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