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Managing Your Diabetes-Related Expenses

Diabetes can take a toll on you — and your wallet. Even though more than 9 percent of the U.S. population is living with this disease, that doesn’t make paying for it any easier!

Besides buying diabetes supplies and medications, people with diabetes have to deal with many other tasks throughout the day, such as managing and maintaining a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and testing their blood sugar.

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Why is the cost of diabetes so high?

People with diabetes incur medical costs that are about 2.3 times higher than those of their diabetes-free peers, according to the American Diabetes Association (ADA).

The medications, test strips, and other supplies required to control and monitor a person’s blood glucose can add up fast. A single test strip typically costs around $1. Someone with diabetes could spend several hundreds of dollars on this essential item every month. More frequent doctor visits and the need to see specialists, not to mention potential hospital visits, can add up too. Longer-term health complications like dialysis, eye condition treatments, and attending to mental health issues rack up the bill as well. Insurance covers some of these fees for those who are fortunate enough to have it. However, many costs are left to the patient to pay out of pocket.

ADA research found that people with diabetes spend about $13,700 on medical expenses per year, of which $7,900 can be attributed to their disease. So it’s not surprising that many people feel overwhelmed by the economic toll caused by their physical condition.

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How can I save money when I have diabetes?

Here are some tips that can help people with diabetes manage their finances.

Explore your insurance options:

  • If you do not have health insurance, you can find a list of federally funded health centers at the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). The amount you pay is based on your financial situation.
  • Some community centers may provide basic health care for a reduced rate. Check in your community to see what resources may be available to you.
  • If you have insurance, check with your doctor to make sure you are on the lowest cost medications available with your insurance plan. Many insurance companies have tiered amount charges for different medication groups. You can save money by switching to a lower cost option if your doctor approves.

Save on medication:

  • Thinking ahead and ordering a 3-month supply of medications online can help you save money.
  • Ask your doctor if there’s a generic form of any medication you’re taking. They’re much less expensive than name brand medications and some pharmacies have special deals on generic medications.
  • Many pharmaceutical companies will provide medications at lower or no cost to those in need who do not have insurance. The ADA provides information for this on their website, or you can ask your doctor about these programs.

Save on testing supplies:

  • Check for free meters at your doctor’s office or health clinic, or in weekly pharmacy sales. Many companies will provide free meters to get people to buy their testing supplies.
  • If you have insurance, be sure the meter you get is the lowest cost for testing supplies.
  • Some companies may offer free or low cost testing supplies if you qualify. Pharmacies may also have deals on testing supplies, or medication supplies.

Look into community resources:

  • Check with your local diabetes association to see is they’re aware of any cost saving offers available nationally or in your community.
  • If the cost of food is an issue, look to your community for programs that may provide free or reduced cost food or meals.

Now what?

Some people who urgently need financial assistance for medical expenses may be reluctant to turn to others for help. Remember that many of the programs listed were put in place to help, and are available if you ask. Talk to your health care team if you need financial assistance.

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