By: Laurie Edwards for Diabetes1
Having diabetes requires constant monitoring and often, regular medication. Good self-care depends on many medical supplies, from glucose meters and test strips to oral medications or insulin therapy and co-pays – and none of this comes cheaply. Though these expenses aren’t going to go away, there are simple steps you can take to manage your diabetes without destroying your budget.
Have insurance and need help with your co-pays? Check out the Patient Advocate Foundation’s Co-Pay Relief Program for patients with autoimmune diseases at http://www.copays.org.
any health insurance plans cover seeing a certified diabetes educator (CDE). Schedule a visit – he or she may be able to access reduced-cost supplies for you.
Think you could get a better deal on medications? Compare local prices and check to see if your pharmacy will match the lowest price you found in the area.
The Skinny on Supplies
The key to saving money on testing supplies is to know what to ask and where to look for good deals. For example, keep your eyes open and do some research before shelling out money for a new glucose meter. Pharmacy flyers often offer discount coupons or rebates where if you buy a certain amount of test strips, you get a free meter. Similar packages can be found in diabetes magazines.
Don’t forget the obvious. Talk to your diabetes team who often may have free glucose meters or more information on how to save money.
Seek out samples. Whether it’s syringes or infusion sets, think about the purchases you make that really add up and contact the companies that manufacture them to see if they would be willing to send you some samples. It can’t hurt to ask.
Diabetes expos are another great resource for diabetes supplies. Often, these events are filled with companies who are armed with free samples, promoting their newest products.
Harness the power of the Internet. From online pharmacies with significant discounts on medications to the availability of reduced-cost medical supplies on diabetes Web sites, there are lots of places to compare prices.
Team Up with Your Doctor
Speak with your doctor about how you might best save money. Whenever possible, try to purchase multiple medications at the same time and see if you can get prescriptions for several months’ supply of medication – it means fewer trips to the pharmacy and fewer fees.
Re-evaluate your treatment regimen to see if more cost-effective methods could work for you. For example, a recent study found that for people with type 2 diabetes who have just reached the point where they need insulin, using pre-loaded insulin pens over syringes could save more money in the long-term, despite the fact that the initial cost of the pen exceeds that of syringes.
When Insurance Is an Issue
If your insurance doesn’t cover what you need or you don’t have insurance there are still options you should explore. Hospitals and community centers often run diabetes education classes at no cost or on a sliding scale, and can serve as a great resource. If you meet minimum income levels or are uninsured, many drug companies have programs that provide necessary medications at reduced cost or for free.
Be creative about where you look. Local diabetes organizations and diabetes support groups frequently collect supplies for those in need. Also, you should know that most states have laws requiring state-regulated health insurance to pay for basic diabetes supplies.
Prevention Pays Off
Prevention is one of the very best ways to save money. Better control over your blood sugar and your overall disease management means fewer complications, fewer trips to the hospital, and less financial strain.