It's Day 2 of Diabetes Blog Week! Today's topic is: Insulin and other diabetes medications and supplies can be costly. Here in the US, insurance status and age (as in Medicare eligibility) can impact both the cost and coverage. So today, let’s discuss how cost impacts our diabetes care. Do you have advice to share? For those outside the US, is cost a concern? Are there other factors such as accessibility or education that cause barriers to your diabetes care?
I'm grateful that our family is able to secure what most in this country would consider 'good' health insurance through an employer and that we're able to afford what are still extraordinarily expensive premiums, deductibles and copays. There are so many people who are unable to afford care which would allow them to live...let alone live well...with diabetes. Having access to quality diabetes care is not, in this country, in this day and age, something to take for granted. Instead, both because it's not guaranteed and because we pay dearly for it is, for us, a precious resource which should be used wisely in lots of ways, including these:
We prepare well for, and take full advantage of visits to the endocrinologist. Our copay to visit a specialist is $50- no small price. We choose our specialists carefully, and if we're not happy we don't go back, just like we wouldn't return to a restaurant that served a sub-par $50 meal. Fortunately, after some trial and error, we found a great endo years ago. In the days leading up to the appointment, we talk as a family about what problems we're hoping to get solutions to and what questions we need answered. Once we're there, we give the 20-30 minute conversation all of our energy and focus. We take notes, and when we get home we implement the suggestions.
We also choose and purchase our diabetes equipment carefully. We pay a 20-30% copay for pump and CGM supplies. So we do our homework there too, extensively researching options. Then we talk with the doctor to choose the best insulin delivery and glucose monitoring methods for my child's particular needs. Over the course of many years I have managed to stockpile some extra pump and CGM supplies in case there is a lapse in our insurance or in our ability to pay that 20-30% copay.
We find opportunities to save money on supplies when it's reasonable to do so. We recently had the choice whether to pay full price for Lantus to keep in the fridge- and hopefully never use- for pump failure, or to receive a different long-acting insulin for no copay at all. That was a no brainer. We chose last year to stick with the longer-lasting transmitters and sensors of the Dexcom G4 instead of upgrading to the G5 which would cost us more in maintenance supplies. On a much smaller scale, I stock up during juice box sales and buy out the Smarties post-Halloween.
Despite the alarming annual tally of medical costs I compile each year for the income tax file, we are among the fortunate ones. Those costs don't preclude our ability to pay for housing, groceries, or even annual family vacations. So when there are unneeded supplies in the closet, or a charitable organization to support, we try to help those who are unable to afford the costs of diabetes. We've donated test strips and meters to Insulin for Life. We participate in an annual JDRF walk. We share information on social media about local organizations willing to take and redistribute unexpired diabetes supplies. We write letters and make phone calls to government representatives, insurance companies, and medical companies.
We do what we can to use our resources wisely and to help and advocate for those who don't have adequate resources to use.
More Diabetes Blog Week posts on the cost of diabetes can be found by clicking here.