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.