Living with type 2 diabetes comes with its share of challenges. One hurdle may be the cost of medication and supplies.
According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), roughly 1 in 5 people with diabetes don’t monitor their glucose levels at home. Half of these people report that this is due to the financial strain associated with the cost of diabetes supplies.
Affording these tools can be challenging for people without insurance or limited coverage. Here are a few strategies to help reduce the cost.
Continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) is designed to help people living with diabetes manage their blood glucose levels more effectively.
Unlike traditional glucose monitoring methods that involve periodic finger stick tests, CGM provides real-time, continuous data on your glucose levels throughout the day.
CGM devices, such as Freestyle Libre, play a pivotal role in managing diabetes. However, the cost of these devices can vary, which affects accessibility for many people.
Commonly used CGM devices include:
- Freestyle Libre and Libre Sense
- Medtronic’s Guardian Connect and Guardian Sensor 3
According to research from 2020, the out-of-pocket cost for CGM (transmitter, reader, and sensors) typically ranges from $2,500–$6,000 per year for someone without insurance. Though insurance coverage can relieve some of the financial burden, copays and deductibles will still apply.
CGMs are dependable and easy to use. Their dependability comes from how well they accurately measure glucose levels.
You can get instant, real-time data. Depending on the model, some CGM sensors can last for up to 180 days. Plus, CGMs work easily with smartphones and smartwatches, so you can check your glucose level whenever you need to.
Yet they can be expensive, which may be challenging for those on a budget.
If your insurance doesn’t cover your CGM, the manufacturer may offer a patient assistance program to eligible individuals. Additionally, your doctor might have insight into assistance programs, discounts, or alternative solutions.
Since many health insurance plans cover CGM devices, a good starting point is to understand the specific details of your policy.
Check to see which devices your insurance covers, the extent of coverage, and whether you have any copays or deductibles. This can lessen your out-of-pocket expenses. If necessary, speak with your insurance provider and ask questions about coverage.
To take advantage of patient assistance programs (discounts, rebates, or other forms of support), reach out to the manufacturer directly or visit their website to explore options.
Additionally, look for rebates or discount programs offered by these manufacturers. These periodic promotions can lower the overall cost.
If you have a flexible spending account (FSA) or a health savings account (HSA), consider using these funds to cover the costs of a CGM device. FSA and HSA accounts allow you to use pre-tax dollars for medical expenses.
People seeking free diabetes supplies can check with organizations, such as the Diabetes Foundation, which has resources on free diabetes supplies.
Some free health clinics run by volunteers and charitable organizations might also provide diabetes supplies at no cost to you. These clinics offer healthcare to people who don’t have insurance, as well as people without the financial means to afford their medication and supplies.
Online platforms, forums, and social media groups focused on diabetes support might also share information on where to get free supplies.
Financial aid for people with diabetes is available through multiple agencies and organizations. For example, government assistance programs, such as Medicaid or Medicare, typically offer some coverage for CGM devices to individuals who qualify.
Some nonprofit organizations can also provide financial support and help individuals with the cost of managing diabetes. These organizations offer financial assistance, resources, and other guidance.
Even though the costs of diabetes management, which include CGM devices, can be expensive and not easily accessible for some people, there’s hope.
From insurance coverage to assistance programs and community support, there are ways to improve affordability. Yet it’s important to proactively seek out these resources.
You might consider speaking with your doctor, contacting diabetes drug manufacturers, and joining a local or online diabetes community. These can help you find the right support and ensure that you can manage your blood sugar effectively.