Diabetes is a metabolic condition in which the body fails to convert glucose
into energy. It’s the fastest-growing long-term disease in the world. According
to the Canadian Diabetes Association, an estimated 285 million people worldwide
are affected by diabetes, with seven million new diagnoses upping the numbers
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) estimates that about 25.8 million
people in the United States—or 8.3 percent of the U.S. population—currently
suffer from it.
People with diabetes have to deal with many tasks throughout the day, such
as managing their diet, testing their blood sugar, and taking their
medications. As if that’s not enough, diabetes arrives with another challenge:
a hefty price tag attached to treatment.
The High Cost of Diabetes
According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), people with diabetes
incur medical costs that are about 2.3 times higher than those of their
The medications, test strips, and other supplies required to control and
monitor a person’s blood glucose can add up, fast. A single test strip
typically costs around $1. Someone with diabetes could spend several hundreds
of dollars on this essential item every month.
Longer-term health complications like dialysis, eye condition treatments,
and attending to mental health issues (people with diabetes have been shown to
have a higher propensity for depression than the general population) rack up
the bill. Insurance covers some of these fees for those who are fortunate
enough to have it. However, most costs are left to the patient to pay out of
ADA research found that people with diagnosed diabetes spend about $13,700
on medical expenses per year, of which $7,900 can be attributed to their
disease. Given this information, it’s not surprising that many people feel
overwhelmed by the economic toll caused by their physical condition.
Money Saving Tips
Here are some tips that can help people with diabetes manage their financial
- If you do not have health insurance, you can
find a list of federally funded health centers at the
and Services Administration (HRSA). The amount you pay is based on your
- Some community centers may also provide basic
health care for a reduced rate. Check in your community to see what resources
may be available to you.
- If you have insurance, check with your doctor to
make sure you are on the lowest cost medications available with your insurance
plan. Many insurance companies have tiered amount charges for different medication
groups. You can save money by switching to a lower cost option if your doctor approves
- Thinking ahead and ordering a three month supply
of medications online can also be very cost effective.
- Be sure to ask your doctor if there is a generic
form of any medication you are taking.
They are much less expensive than name brand medications and some
pharmacies have special deals on generic medications.
- Ask your doctor for samples.
- Check for free meters in weekly pharmacy
sales. Many companies will provide free
meters to get people to buy their testing supplies.
- If you have insurance, be sure the meter you get
is the lowest cost for testing supplies.
- Some companies may offer free or low cost
testing supplies if you qualify. Pharmacies
may also have deals on testing supplies, or medication supplies.
- Check with your local diabetes association to
see is they are aware of any cost saving offers available nationally or in your
- Online crowdfunding websites are also a
highly effective means of securing funds to pay for unexpected or overwhelming
expenses like medical conditions. In
this model, a crowdfunding platform like FundRazr, with whom Healthline is
partnered for such initiatives, establishes a Web page describing the patient’s
situation. The patient sets a financial goal and launches a campaign that
manages funds for their cause.
- If the cost of food is an issue, look to your
community for programs that may provide free or reduced cost food or meals.
Don’t Be Shy
People who urgently need financial assistance for
medical expenses are often reluctant to turn to others for help. Maybe they
don’t want to appear needy, or they feel guilty calling on other people’s
generosity. Remember that many of the programs
listed above were put in place to help, and are available if you ask. Talk to your health care team if you need