Treatment for diabetes can be expensive. In fact, people with diabetes spend more than twice as much on health care as individuals without the condition, and diabetes is the most expensive chronic health condition in the United States. When coupled with everyday expenses, the cost of treating diabetes can easily turn into a financial burden.
“I have no insurance and everything is sooo expensive,” wrote one DiabetesTeam member. Another said, “This is definitely an expensive disease — old-age pensioners can’t afford these prices!”
Whether or not you have health insurance, there are many financial resources to help with all aspects of treating diabetes, including medications and travel costs for treatment.
This article outlines many of the available resources that may help you reduce the financial challenge of treating diabetes.
Diabetes treatment costs will be much more affordable if you have some form of health insurance. There are many private and public health insurance options in the United States, which help to cover the cost of medical services such as hospital stays, doctor visits, procedures, and medications.
If you don’t have health insurance, review your eligibility for these programs:
In addition to helping pay for your medical visits, medications, and procedures, health insurance may also cover the cost of equipment needed to monitor your diabetes. "Contact Medicare or your Medicare supplement plan and ask which blood sugar meters they cover," one DiabetesTeam member wrote. "Then ask your doctor to write a prescription for that meter."
Another member wrote, "My test strips are free through my insurance program."
It’s illegal for health insurance companies to refuse you coverage because of a preexisting condition, which are health-related conditions you had before you got the insurance.
Making sure you have an appropriate health insurance plan is the first step in helping to cover treatment costs. Many other resources also aim to help with diabetes-related costs.
The Medicare and Medicaid programs are overseen by the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). On Jan. 1, 2021, CMS launched a Part D Senior Savings Model.
Under this program, participating seniors have to pay only $35 for 30 days’ worth of insulin. Participating plans must offer "at least one vial and pen dosage form for each of the different types of model insulins, where available — rapid acting, short-acting, intermediate-acting, and long-acting," CMS notes.
If you’re interested in taking part in the program, check whether your Part D or Medicare Advantage plan participates in the Senior Savings Model. If not, choose a plan that does during Medicare’s open enrollment period in the fall.
Health care costs for Americans with diabetes averaged nearly $17,000 annually in 2018, representing 25 percent of U.S. health care expenditures. Financial support programs are available for costs directly related to expenditures such as:
The American Diabetes Association has consolidated information on how you can get help affording insulin and diabetes medication. The organization recommends determining who manufactures your insulin vial or pen and calling that organization’s customer service line to see if you qualify for a patient assistance program.
For example, Sanofi offers a savings program and a Patient Connection assistance program, Novo Nordisk has its NovoCare program, and Eli Lilly has a Lilly Insulin Value Program.
If your insurance plan covers one medication but not another, talk to your health care provider about switching to the lower-cost option. “There is nothing stopping you from talking to your doctor about your specific situation,” one DiabetesTeam member wrote. “Tell them that cost is a factor.”
One resource you can contact for payment assistance is your local health department, which may be able to help you find affordable or even free diabetes care. You can also check out this search tool from The National Association of Free & Charitable Clinics.
Diabetes can result in damage to your eyes and vision loss. For vision care, Lions Clubs International provides resources and help.
For diabetes care for children, Shriners Hospitals for Children may be a good resource to explore.
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Following are some additional resources you can access online to help with costs associated with diabetes:
Learn additional ways to reduce your medical expenses.
Navigating the health care system and juggling expenses can be frustrating. Know that you are not alone and that there are people fighting for easier access to resources that will help you stay healthy with diabetes.
One DiabetesTeam member wrote of their own advocacy: “I am communicating with city officials, Health and Human Services officials, and others to make sure that we get information out in front of people so they can call just a few phone numbers and at least get the ball rolling and find out what they are eligible for and get the proper city departments to help them.”
DiabetesTeam is the social network for people with diabetes and their loved ones. On DiabetesTeam, more than 118,000 members come together to ask questions, give advice, and share their stories with others who understand life with diabetes.
Do you have diabetes and use financial resources to help afford your treatments? Share your experience in the comments below, or start a conversation by posting on your Activities page.