How to Save Money on Diabetes Supplies

by Allison Karp, Education Coordinator

Being diagnosed with diabetes not only weighs heavily on your personal life, but significantly affects you financially. In 2007, the national cost of diabetes was an astonishing $174 billion. Diabetics face an uphill battle when it comes to adequate health care coverage for diabetes supplies. In the past, health insurance companies have charged a higher premium rate to people with pre-existing conditions, like diabetes. Some insurers refuse to provide coverage altogether. Moreover, people with Type 2 diabetes face an even greater challenge acquiring financial assistance.

For those who depend on them, diabetes supplies are expensive if you don’t have the proper health care coverage. The cost of insulin pumps, glucose monitor kits, blood pressure monitors, lancing devices, diabetic footwear, oral medications, and diabetic test strips add up. For instance, people without health insurance might pay $75 for a box of 50 test strips. Type 1 diabetics test their glucose levels between 2 and 6 times each day. This necessary expense adds up to a significant out-of-pocket loss for those without comprehensive health insurance coverage.

Luckily, more health plans cover all of your diabetic expenses, or are at least willing to pay for a portion. Although health insurance companies do offer to pay for a portion, it might not be beneficial if they begin to charge higher deductibles or larger co-payments. There are online resources that offer diabetes supplies at a discounted price, cutting medical costs for you and your family.

By closely monitoring your diet and exercising regularly, you can naturally lower your glucose levels, making medication unnecessary. It is as important to know how to properly administer insulin shots as it is to obtain them. Regularly checking your feet for sores can lessen your diabetic costs. Smoking is discouraged for those that have diabetes because it increases your risk of a heart attack. As a parent, you should closely monitor your kid’s diet since obesity is a contributing factor to Type 2 diabetes.

Keeping these tips in mind will greatly reduce your health and financial costs:

1. Medications: Your doctor or pharmacist can tell you if there is a generic alternative to your current prescription drug. Some drug companies offer mediations at steeply discounted prices if you qualify for their assistance program.
2. Free Supplies: Many online pharmacies give away free glucose meters. Keep in mind the long-term cost of the strips that are compatible with the “free” meter. Health fairs sponsored by the American Diabetes Association or your local hospital are a good place to collect free supplies and to learn about new programs in your area.
3. Comparison Shop: First of all, you don’t have to buy all of your supplies from one place. Some might be cheaper online and others cheaper from your hometown pharmacy. Consider travel time and gas; loyalty program discounts; participation in your health plan; shipping and handling costs; and reputation.
4. Wellness Programs: Get to know your health insurance plan’s diabetes wellness program since they may offer incentives such as free checkups and medical updates.
5. Understand Insurance Coverage: Make sure you contact your insurance company to see how they account for drugs and supplies. Always make sure you have a prescription for meters and supplies and go to a participating pharmacy or mail order company. Sometimes supplies are categorized as "durable medical equipment" and can be charged differently.
6. Prescription Discount Cards: By participating in one of these membership programs, you might qualify for discounts on your drugs and supplies. The drug industry sponsors a program. Many discount and loyalty programs are sponsored by pharmacy chains such as Walgreen’s and CVS. Before paying a monthly fee to a private drug card, make sure your pharmacy accepts it. See whether your estimated savings offset the cost of the card.
7. Quit Smoking: The daily cost of cigarettes and the added health complications of smoking are enough to make you want to quit smoking.
8. Follow Medical Advice: Sticking with your diet, exercise and treatment plan is the surest way to stay healthy and keep your costs down.

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