Pamela D. Wilson, MS, BS/BA, NCG, CSA
A diabetes diagnosis can affect many aspects of life. In addition to juggling everyday tasks and routine injections, managing the emotional ups and downs can feel like a full-time job. And then, on top of it all, there are a number of important costs associated with the disease.
Thankfully, it's possible to achieve balance — millions of people with type 1 diabetes are currently living their best lives. A little foresight and planning can go a long way toward managing the cost of diabetes!
Here are a few different ways those with T1D can work to keep their expenses low while enjoying a high quality of life.
Identifying affordable medications and supplies
Pricing for blood sugar test strips, monitoring equipment and devices to test glucose levels can range from $10 to over $100. Planning ahead is key here — having a drawer full of lancets and not enough test strips is often part of the juggling act of diabetes care. The time it takes to secure supplies can be an intangible cost of managing T1D, so planning ahead to buy important items is a good strategy. Being prepared can help save time (and potentially some money, too).
When concerns exist about prescription drug costs, individuals should contact their insurance companies to confirm co-pays ranging from $3 to $50. A good way to keep expenses low is searching for generic versions of medications instead of buying name-brand drugs.
Using online resources can help you compare costs for both medications and diabetes supplies. For instance, rapid-acting mealtime insulin can be purchased on the internet for anywhere from $126 to $230, and online suppliers offer a number of different insulin pumps and monitoring devices.
Online coupons can be printed that may reduce the cost of many drugs and supplies. Additionally, obtaining medications through mail-order outlets can be less expensive if a 90-day refill is approved. Doing a little research can pay off in big ways.
Working with a medical team to reduce costs
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) support the concept of assembling a medical team to manage diabetes, as doing so can lower the risk of expensive health complications, identify issues for timely medical treatment and increase an individual's quality of life. Long-term healthcare costs are generally lower when a person's well-being is well-managed.
A medical team may include a primary care doctor, an endocrinologist, a dietitian, a diabetes educator and a mental health professional. Co-pays to see a medical team can be included in a medical insurance plan and may range from $10 to $50 per visit. However, these amounts could be different for people with high-deductible insurance plans, so it's important to do some due diligence.
Working with a medical team helps manage the cost of diabetes by supporting consistent actions and providing positive emotional support. Dr. Mayer B. Davidson, past president of the American Diabetes Association (ADA), emphasizes that working with a team of experts and learning about the basics of diabetes is essential to creating positive habits for good health. Knowing how to use insulin pumps and CGMs — and understanding the finer points of managing glucose levels — can help ensure individuals stay healthy and active.
Managing costs through insurance and planning
Expenses associated with medical insurance is another concern for many people with type 1 diabetes. According to the ADA, access to medical care is key to managing diabetes. Medical appointments, diabetes management supplies, lab work and mental health counseling are costs that are typically included in health insurance plans. However, co-pays and out-of-pocket costs can vary depending on providers and insurance plan deductibles.
In addition to creating a monthly budget, a good way to reduce the cost of diabetes is to compare health insurance policies and providers. The National Conference of State Legislators (NCSL) is a great resource, as it provides helpful information about state laws and medical coverage for diabetes. Additionally, the State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) offers free counseling services for Medicare beneficiaries and their families or caregivers. Both are great organizations to check out.
Understanding the emotional cost of diabetes
In addition to costs for supplies and support from physicians, type 1 diabetes comes with some other intangible costs, one of which being the emotional toll it can take. High levels of stress can make the daily tasks involved in managing diabetes feel overwhelming, and talking about diabetes at school or in the workplace can be embarrassing because of the attention needed to manage blood sugar and diet. Additionally, worries about taking time off to attend medical appointments may be a concern.
According to the CDC, people with diabetes are 2 to 3 times more likely to have depression than people who don't have diabetes. So having a strong support network in place is crucial for those with type 1 diabetes.
At work, human resources departments can provide accommodations that allow employees with T1D to attend routine medical appointments and manage their blood glucose privately. At home, friends and family can provide a shoulder to lean on and help with understanding (and properly following) medical recommendations. It's easy to get confused about taking the right dose of medication, obtaining refills and making co-pays, so a second set of eyes and ears can be a big help. Additionally, these helpers can offer support by providing transportation to appointments or fun distractions when the going gets tough.
Being consistent with medical care and maintaining a positive outlook is the best path toward properly managing diabetes care, worrying less and enjoying life more. Planning ahead to obtain medication refills and diabetes supplies — and to attend medical appointments rather than waiting until the last minute — can keep costs low and reduce stress.
Are you interested in ordering diabetes testing supplies or continuous glucose monitoring sensors online? Explore the Edgepark website to discover available products and place an order to be delivered to your home.