Cost Control Tips for Diabetes Expenses

For many people with diabetes, out-of-pocket medical expenses are a regularly occurring fact of life. Insurance and assistance programs rarely cover all costs.

Doing research, comparison shopping, and looking for deals on diabetes treatments and supplies can save you money. Check out these cost-cutting ideas and shopping tips suggested by Andy Robin, M.D.

Glucose-Monitoring Costs

Even if you buy glucose test strips from an online or big-box discount store, a one-month supply of strips will cost the same or more than one reusable glucose monitor.

You can purchase a glucose monitor for about $20. Those sold in the United States have to be FDA-approved, so their accuracy is quite reliable. Since all meters are based on the same technology, differences in price reflect the monitor’s blood sample size and its response time.

If you use strips, being disciplined about diet and exercise may mean having to monitor fewer times per day, trimming your costs. However, those with type 1 diabetes may have to monitor more often if they increase their exercise routines.

Cost-cutting Tip: For any drug or other supplies you need, do an Internet search using the product’s name plus the words “rebates,” “coupons,” and “free samples.” You may find some surprising savings.

Non-Insulin Medication Costs

There are no stand-out non-insulin treatments available, so going with the least expensive treatment option makes sense.

The drug Metformin is well-researched, inexpensive, and frequently recommended for treating type 2 diabetes. It costs about $100 a year or less, depending on where you purchase it. If your physician recommends a more expensive medication, ask about using Metformin instead. Unless the doctor has a medical reason for not prescribing you Metformin (e.g., kidney disease, liver disease), you might insist on using it.

If a second non-insulin medication becomes necessary, sulfonylureas, drugs that improve insulin release, could be a pocketbook-friendly choice. Or, it may be more cost- and treatment-effective to go with prescription insulin.

Purchasing medications on the Internet can often save you money. To ensure drug quality, always use an online pharmacy with the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy’s Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Sites accreditation.

Insulin and Insulin Pump Costs

Be sure to check insulin prices at big-box and online pharmacies to get the best deals. For accessories such as syringes or lancets, do comparison shopping, and search online for discount offers and coupons.

Although it may take some dogged persistence to find a provider and get enrolled, some insulin manufacturers have assistance programs for people with inadequate insurance coverage. You doctor may be able to help.

Insulin pumps, most often recommended with type 1 diabetes, run $300 to $600 with good health coverage (thousands without insurance). The criterion for insurance coverage is usually strict, so research it carefully and look for sales or manufacturer rebates.

Procedure Costs

Should you experience diabetes complications, your doctor may recommend medical procedures, such as laser treatment for your eyes, kidney dialysis, or surgical removal of infected tissue.

Learn what you can about the procedure and its costs from your doctor, and collect information about the hospital expenses and what your insurance covers. Then, use an online insurance-estimating tool (usually free) and enter your data to get an out-of-pocket cost estimate.

Next, comparison-shop doctors and hospitals to see where you might get the procedure done for less.

Your Insurance

If your employer offers more than one health plan, do research or talk to human resources to make sure your plan is the most economical for your needs. Those who sign up for coverage through a health insurance exchange will need patience and diligence to research the best alternative, but doing so may cut your health expenses.

Important Tip: Individuals with end-stage renal failure – of any age – can apply for Medicare dialysis coverage.

Source: Providence Journal

Photo credit: John Nyboer

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