How does an insulin pump work?

An insulin pump is a form of medical device that delivers continuous insulin doses to treat diabetes mellitus. This device provides insulin to the body in two ways: background (basal) insulin and mealtime (bolus) insulin.

The basal insulin supplies the body with a steady flow of insulin throughout the day and night. On the other hand, the bolus insulin delivers an extra dose at mealtime to meet the gaps in the food intake.

An insulin pump system consists of:

  • The pump.
  • A disposable insulin reservoir.
  • An infusion set (containing a cannula for skin injection and a tubing system that connects the reservoir to the cannula).

These pieces work together in providing continuous doses of the needed insulin hormone for diabetes management.

How does this medical device work? The pump delivers insulin to the body via a thin, flexible tube called an infusion set. A cannula, which can be a needle or a small, tapered pipe, is injected under the. The spot where you put the cannula can be on your belly or buttock. It is also important to note that only short-acting or rapid-acting insulin is used in an insulin pump like this.

How beneficial are insulin pumps? Below are the advantages and disadvantages of these medical devices:


  • It provides more accurate results in managing blood glucose levels than injection shots.
  • It is beneficial for people who experience frequent episodes of hypoglycemia.
  • It is easier to measure your dose after every meal.


  • Changing the infusion set every few days can be demanding.
  • Frequent visits with your healthcare professional are necessary to ensure you are using the pump correctly.
  • Some pump supplies can be very expensive.

What does it look like?

Insulin pumps are similar to the size of a smartphone. They are small, computerized medical devices with real-time glucose readings. The insulin pump system allows people with diabetes to easily view their blood sugar levels and the history of insulin delivery to their bodies. You can wear the pump on your pocket or belt or attach it to a strap under your clothing.

How much is an insulin pump?

As mentioned, one of the disadvantages of an insulin pump is its high cost. For people with insurance coverage, it can cost $5 – $3,250. This price is 50% of the total cost of one insulin pump. However, if there is no insurance coverage, the product can cost from $4,500 to $6,500.

If your healthcare professional prescribes you an insulin pump, consider the cost of the device first. If the price is too much for your pocket, you can seek assistance to purchase your medication. Several government programs are available that offer medical assistance to people with diabetes who cannot pay for their treatment.