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How To Find Financial Support for Diabetes Treatment

Posted on April 14, 2022
Medically reviewed by
Robert Hurd, M.D.
Article written by
Anika Brahmbhatt

  • Living with diabetes can be expensive, including the costs of insulin and other medications and of taking time off work to see your doctor.
  • People with diabetes spend more than twice the amount on health care than those in the general population.
  • There are many local resources and organizations that can help you afford diabetes treatments, including Medicare's Senior Savings Model program.

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.

Understand Your Health Insurance Options

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:

  • Medicare, if you are 65 years old or older, or receive disability benefits
  • Medicaid, if you meet certain income thresholds
  • Individual health insurance through the Affordable Care Act marketplace
  • Job-based health insurance through your or your spouse’s employer; you also may be eligible for insurance through a parent’s employer if you’re under age 26
  • U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, if you are a U.S. veteran

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.

Review the Part D Senior Savings Model Program

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.

Financial Assistance for Diabetes Treatment

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:

  • Copayments
  • Deductibles
  • Premiums
  • Transportation to and from treatment centers
  • Other costs indirectly related to treatment, such as childcare and mortgage support

Insulin Resources

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.”

Local Resources

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.

Do you use financial resources to help afford your diabetes treatments?
Click
here to share your experience in the comments below.

Online Resources

Following are some additional resources you can access online to help with costs associated with diabetes:

  • NeedyMeds — This nonprofit resource offers a search function to help you find patient assistance programs and other resources to help with the cost of prescription medications. The site offers drug discount cards, coupons, and rebates on prescriptions for a variety of conditions, including diabetes. You may also find local and national resources by diagnosis through the site.
  • BenefitsCheckUp — This resource — geared toward low-income senior citizens — can help you access medicines, medical providers, rent payments, and other needs.
  • Medicine Assistance Tool — This tool can help you search for more affordable care if you don’t have insurance coverage for your prescriptions.
  • RxAssist — This site provides a compiled list of drug-company assistance programs, state-funded programs, discount drug cards, help with covering copays, and more.
  • Rx Outreach — This nonprofit is an affordable, mail-order pharmacy resource.

Learn additional ways to reduce your medical expenses.

You’re Not Alone

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.”

Talk With Others Who Understand

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.

References
  1. Financial Help for Diabetes Care — National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases
  2. Cost-Effectiveness of Diabetes Interventions — National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion
  3. Sign Up/Change Plans — Medicare.gov
  4. Eligibility — Medicaid.gov
  5. Still Need Health Insurance? — HealthCare.gov
  6. VA Health Care — U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
  7. Pre-Existing Conditions — HHS.gov
  8. Financial Help for Treatment of Kidney Failure — National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases
  9. The Cost of Diabetes Care — An Elephant in the Room — American Diabetes Association
  10. Help With Insulin is a Phone Call Away — American Diabetes Association
  11. What Are Patient Assistance Programs? — GoodRx Health
  12. Savings — Sanofi
  13. Sanofi Patient Connection — Sanofi
  14. NovoCare Patient Affordability and Access Support — NovoCare
  15. Helping People With Diabetes Get the Medicine They Need — Lilly
  16. Part D Senior Savings Model — CMS.gov
  17. How Medicare’s New Senior Savings Model Makes Insulin More Affordable — American Diabetes Association
  18. Find a Health Center — HRSA Data Warehouse
  19. Diabetes: Vision Loss — Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  20. Resource Center — Lions Clubs International
  21. Hospital Locations — Shriners Hospitals for Children
  22. Welcome News Users — NeedyMeds
  23. Find My Benefits — National Council on Aging
  24. Worried About Affording Your Medicine? MAT Is Here To Help — Medicine Assistance Tool
  25. Patient Assistance Program Center — RxAssist
  26. Rx Outreach Home Page — Rx Outreach
All updates must be accompanied by text or a picture.
Robert Hurd, M.D. is a professor of endocrinology and health care ethics at Xavier University. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Learn more about him here.
Anika Brahmbhatt is an undergraduate student at Boston University, where she is pursuing a dual degree in media science and psychology. Learn more about her here.

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