Managing diabetes can be a cost laden task. People afflicted with the disease typically need to keep a stock of needles and syringes, insulin, glucose testing strips, as well as at least one daily medication. Although certain diabetes medicines are available in cost-efficient generic forms, others can cost over a $100 a month. Glucose meters can often be obtained for free, but testing strips go for about a dollar each. Costs of insulin can vary widely – over $200 a month for the uninsured and as little as $20 per month in co-payments for those with coverage.
The Center for Studying Health Systems Change, a non-partisan research group based in Washington, D.C., conducted a survey in 2009 that suggests thirty-percent of Americans with diabetes and other chronic conditions have difficultly affording their treatment. Even the insured incur out-of-pocket fees. There are, however, ways to make diabetes treatments more affordable. Here are a few:
Free diabetes supplies such as test strips and glucose meters are commonly handed out at health fairs. Although there is no central listing of scheduled events, they are most frequently held during November, which is American Diabetes Month.
There is one thing to keep in mind about changing glucose meters: research the cost of the strips that are compatible with the new meter you are considering. Although there may be high-tech improvements on newer meters, buying compatible strips for them may cost you hundreds over the course of its use.
Drugstore Programs and Discounts
Many of the nation’s largest pharmacy chains offer great prescription programs and discounts in the form of online coupons. Signing up for Rite Aid’s rx savings program, for instance, allows customers to save 15% on thousands of prescription medications and supplies, including Rite Aid brand test strips. Other chains with programs of their own include CVS, Walmart, and Costco. To learn more, visit their websites or walk into a chain and speak with a pharmacist.
Flex Spending Accounts
If available, always sign up for one of these accounts. They are great for saving money on all your medical supplies, as the money is taken from your pay check pre-tax. If you know each month how much your supples will cost, you can build a budget and determine how much you will need to put away to cover your supplies. Just make sure you use it all by the end of the year. If you don’t, you lose what ever is left over.
If you are a single-person household with an income under $30,000 or have a family of four with an income under $60,000 and you are a legal U.S. resident, you may be eligible for a Together Rx Access Card. Created by a group of Major pharmaceutical companies, the Access Card offers savings of up to 40% on brand-name medications.
The most important way to not only save money, but also keep your diabetes under control is to live well. Eat healthy food and get exercise on a daily basis. Losing weight can reduce the frequency of tests you need to preform and hence the amount of money you will spend on test strips, and greater overall health means fewer doctor visits. However, do not change your treatment plan without consulting your doctor, and never skip authorized tests to save money. There are always alternatives if you are having trouble paying for supplies. Contact your community health center if the need arises and ask about donations.
Sam Spector is a writer living in Brooklyn, NY. He is currently pursuing an MFA in Creative Writing while working on his first novel, tentatively titled “Other Ways to Oblivion.”