Tufts Health Freedom Plan Provides Comfort and Security

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Published on March 26, 2018

Tufts Health Freedom Plan Provides Comfort and Security

Jenn and Daran’s Story

Austin Dearborn, Son of Tufts Health Freedom Plan Insured Concord Hospital EmployeeJenn and Daran Dearborn’s world turned upside down when their son Austin, at the age of four, was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes (T1D).

“Overnight, we went from being the parents of a healthy preschooler to the mom and dad of a child with a life-threatening chronic medical condition,” says Jenn. “We had no time to prepare for the stress, anxiety and fear that came with the diagnosis. We were functioning in survival mode — doing whatever was necessary to keep our baby alive.”

Keeping Austin alive meant working with a team of medical experts to learn how to count carbohydrates, calculate insulin doses, give shots and check blood sugar. It also meant logging and measuring every ounce of his food and educating his caregivers and family members on how to identify symptoms of low and high blood sugar — both of which can be life-threatening.

“To say we were scared is an understatement,” says Daran. “We were more terrified bringing Austin home from the hospital after his T1D diagnosis than we were, as new parents, bringing him home as a newborn.”

They were thrust into a new normal they never invited — one that entailed multiple appointments with a team of pediatric medical specialists, nutritionists, pharmacists and counselors. Prior to Austin’s T1D diagnosis, they would visit his pediatrician once or twice a year for a well-child check-up and an occasional acute illness. After his diagnosis, they were bringing Austin to medical appointments every three months, visiting the pharmacy monthly and speaking with Austin’s endocrinology nurse weekly.

Because of Austin’s high utilization of healthcare resources, the family now, more than ever, required a health insurance plan that provided broad access to highly coordinated, affordable, quality healthcare coverage.

“There is nothing like the diagnosis of a chronic illness to convert a casual healthcare consumer into an engaged one,” says Jenn. “Suddenly, our health insurance became a focus for us as we began needing services, support and products we never required before Austin’s diagnosis.”

Jenn and Daran say today Tufts Health Freedom Plan and its large, high-quality network of doctors and specialists offers the ease of access to medical experts and comprehensive coverage at a price that is affordable for their family. With its network of primary care providers and specialists in over 150 practice sites, a broad scope of services, and a shared data-driven population health management program, the Tufts Health Freedom Plan system leverages the shared resources of five New Hampshire hospitals, including Concord Hospital, to provide seamless, higher quality care at a lower cost for their patients.

“There is a feeling of comfort and security in knowing the cost of Austin’s prescriptions for insulin and blood sugar test strips are covered at 100 percent under our Tufts Health Freedom Plan as preventative medication,” says Daran. “Insulin is life-support and it’s costly. People who cannot afford the medication end up rationing it to the detriment of their health. We’re fortunate to have a health plan that values prevention to lower individual risk and supports the best outcomes for patients.”

Teen Manages Type 1 Diabetes with Help from His Diabetic Alert Dog Service Dog Helps Teen Manage Type 1 Diabetes

Today, Austin is a 15-year-old high school sophomore living an active life with the help of his parents and his diabetic alert service dog — Bo. The five-year-old yellow Labrador is trained to alert when Austin’s blood sugar drops below 89 and rises above 170. He also retrieves a juice box and gets help for Austin on command. Austin’s most recent A1c test result is a testament to Bo’s work and the family’s vigilance in managing Austin’s condition.

The test determines the amount of glucose or sugar that has attached to the blood's hemoglobin during the most recent three-month period and healthcare providers use it to understand the blood sugar goals needed to reduce the risk of the long-term complications of diabetes. When Austin is reaching his blood sugar goals as indicated by his A1c, his diabetes is considered to be under control. In reality, management can be difficult for even the most diligent of patients, due to the unpredictable nature of diabetes and the immune suppression that results from the disease.