What to Do When You Can’t Afford Your Diabetes Medication or Supplies

By |2017-11-16T16:24:55+00:00Updated: April 2nd, 2015|Diabetes Management, General Information|5 Comments

In today’s demanding economy, it can be difficult to manage the cost of ongoing diabetes care. Whether you are insured, under-insured or uninsured, monthly medical expenses can add up. Discover what to do when you can’t afford your diabetes medication or supplies.

Many people with diabetes must take oral medications, injectables or insulin to avoid serious blood sugar fluctuations. They must also test their blood sugars daily with a glucometer and strips. Having diabetes can involve a range of expenses including doctor visits, co-payments, prescriptions and even the cost of healthy food choices. Cutting back on or going without diabetes medications or supplies and doctor visits is not the answer. People with diabetes must closely monitor and control the disease to avoid future complications that could become even more costly.

Ask Your Health Care Team

Never stop taking medications or reduce the doses without talking to your doctor first. Ask your health care team about ways to cut medication costs. Request equivalent generic versions of medication when possible. Always shop around for the best prices. If you take more than one medication for diabetes, find out if it is possible to take a combination pill. If you have a mail order insurance drug program, take advantage of the 3 month medication supply at a reduced cost.

Check Your Community

Check with local community centers, local and state governments and neighborhood clinics to learn more about diabetes medication assistance and help covering the cost of diabetes supplies. Many states have programs to help people with diabetes who do not qualify for Medicaid benefits. Get involved in free screening events sponsored by hospitals and out-patient centers.

Try Drug Companies

Contact the drug companies or supply companies directly to see if they have program to offer assistance to patients without drug/supply coverage. Sometimes they offer trial programs, low-cost options or even free medications and products to those who can show financial need.

Check Your Health Insurance

Beyond medications, people with diabetes also need certain supplies to test blood sugar levels. If you have health insurance, contact your provider to find out exactly which supplies your policy covers. They may require the purchase of particular supplies from designated providers to get coverage. Talk to your health care provider about ordering bulk sizes for optimum savings.

Try to Find Cheaper Online Retailers

Seek out online companies like ADW Diabetes to find low and affordable products especially when paying out of pocket for your supplies. Shop around for discount diabetes supplies and learn how to buy them for the lowest price. For example, a 100-count box of test strips is less costly that a 50-count box. Talk to your health care provider about ordering bulk sizes for optimum savings.

Do your research about ordering strips through the mail. You might be able to order a 90-day supply for less. Ask your insurance plan if they charge a lower co-payment for this type of purchase. Watch for free blood glucose monitor offers. Keep in mind the long-term costs of paying for strips for the meter. If they are costly, you might want to continue to look for a better free meter deal.

Get the Essentials

Consider eliminating optional items such as alcohol swabs. You can clean your hands using basic soap and water. If you are struggling to keep up with the cost of essentials such as test strips, discuss a feasible testing schedule with your health care provider. Vary the testing time daily to give you more information than testing only while fasting (unless advised by your physician).

Insulin Pens Vs Insulin Vials

Many people with diabetes are dependent on insulin. Compare the cost of an insulin pen versus the cost of a vial. People taking small doses of insulin may find a pen to be cheaper in the long run because less insulin is disposed of at the end of the month. Check with the company or drug insert to see how long the insulin will be effective once opened. Write the start date on your insulin pen or vial. Do not use insulin if expired. Be aware of the “donut hole’ if you have Medicare so you do not get any surprises in cost towards the middle of the year.

The cost of proper diabetes self-management can be steep, but the long-term cost of related health complications is higher. Reach out and explore all your options for lowering costs. Talk to your insurance company, local government representatives and healthcare team to find out how you can cover the cost of essential diabetes medications and supplies. Look online to see if you can do better out of pocket.

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About the Author:

ADW Diabetes is a diabetic supply mail order company that is dedicated to keeping diabetes management affordable. ADW takes a leading role in offering free diabetic education through Destination Diabetes, an informational component of the ADW website featuring tips and advice from diabetes and nutrition experts, diabetic recipes and more.


  1. VeggieNut April 3, 2015 at 5:44 pm - Reply

    I’m a long term T2 diabetic who is low income and I went without any kind of health insurance for several years until I recently got old enough for Medicare. I’ve found good online prices from ADW and they offer quality products. Their shipping cost is low and your order ships for free with a minimum purchase. Sometimes ADW has good sales with free shipping and no minimum purchase required.
    Check out free health clinics. Before I got Medicare, I found a free health clinic in the county where I live for employed residents of that county with no insurance. It helped for a couple of years until they discharged me and eventually Medicare kicked in. However, the downside is that I found it hard to get any real help from this free clinic. They gave me no testing supplies except for a meter that I didn’t even need, no test strips for it or for the meter I already had, no dental care, and no help with my diabetic retinopathy. However, I did get much needed cataract surgery for one eye because my retina specialist included in one of his reports that I needed it so he could see the back of my eye better. But even with that, I still had to push hard to get the surgery done. In my experience, it was certainly better than nothing and free clinics are definitely worth looking into as a source of temporary help.
    Another way to help make healthcare affordable is to ask your healthcare provider(s) if they give discounts or even free care for low income, uninsured individuals. My retina specialist did just that for me until Medicare with Medicaid (QMB) benefits kicked in. I also found a local dentist who gives discounts for the uninsured. I’ve not always been low income with no insurance and I know it can be hard to ask for help but there are people who will help you if they know you need it. .
    Another source of help that I wouldn’t underestimate is alternative methods of treatment which are usually much less costly. It takes a lot of time and effort to research and study in depth how to do this yourself and it’s a good idea to take detailed notes on what you find. Holistic/Natural medicine has helped both me and my pets. Some of the supplements that I take are: CoQ10, Alpha Lipoic Acid, Lutein, Zeaxanthin, Vitamins E, C, D3, B complex plus methyl B12, citrus bioflavanoids, I-Caps by Alcon, Benfotiamine, Hawthorne Berries, Olive Leaf Extract standardized, calcium, magnesium, turmeric, fresh ginger root, grapeseed extract, gymnema sylvestre plus a few others which I rotate. I also take taurine because I am a vegetarian and because it’s beneficial for eye health. One of my favorite things I make is herbal tea using turmeric, fresh ginger root and olive leaf extract. This tea has anti-inflammatory properties and will also help boost the immune system. I like it so much that I usually don’t even sweeten it.
    Take the initiative to make lifestyle changes yourself. Focus on the areas of diet control, stress control and exercise. By staying as healthy as you can, you will not only feel better but you will also have lower health care costs.
    I’ve had to be a real do-it-yourselfter for several years now for both me and my pets and it’s paid off. A lot of success in controlling T2 diabetes really does come down to what you do. There is no doctor or treatment of any kind or bottle of pills that can fix not taking care of yourself. You’re the NUMBER ONE all-star player in this ballgame so don’t forget to take care of YOU!

  2. Sherry November 16, 2017 at 3:47 pm - Reply

    I can’t afford my test strips . I’m type 2 diabetic

    • ADW Diabetes November 16, 2017 at 4:20 pm - Reply

      Hi Sherry,

      We have free meter deals with the purchase of test strips that you can check out. Additionally we do post coupons on our Facebook, Twitter and Google plus pages as well as send out emails if you want to subscribe to our newsletter. Hope this helps!

  3. Christa Turnell June 20, 2018 at 4:30 pm - Reply

    Medicare and medicaid refuse to cover insulin for people with type 1. I just paid $300 for a bottle of novolog I’m not willing to die with Medicare and Medicaid.

    • Anonymous June 26, 2018 at 8:11 pm - Reply

      Christa, this can’ be right. I too am a Type I and will be going on Medicare soon and am currently uninsured. There are SO MANY assistance programs that help with the costs of most of your prescriptions, just spend a fair amount of time researching, good luck!

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