Diabetes is a chronic condition that comes with high management costs. According to the American Diabetes Association, the average diabetic spends nearly $9,600 per year managing their disease with costs about 2.3x greater than people without diabetes. The good news is there are ways to save money while safely managing your diabetes.
Shop Around for Supplies
Check multiple sources to find sales and coupons for blood glucose meters, test strips, and other supplies. In most cases, buying the generic brand can save you money over brand-name options. Don’t forget to check online stores, mail-order pharmacies, and online medical supply websites to find the best price.
Get Creative When Searching for Supplies
You don’t need to buy all of your diabetes supplies in the traditional way. Try contacting your diabetes supply company directly and asking for samples of their product. Many diabetes support websites collect supplies from their network of members to supply to those in need. You can also attend ADA Diabetes Expos and other expos for free samples of supplies. You can also search for focus groups that want your opinion about diabetes products in exchange for free supplies.
Explore Different Types of Insulin
There’s no doubt about it: insulin can be very expensive. Out-of-pocket insulin costs can range from $120 to $400 in part due to a lack of generic drugs. Switching drugs may help you save hundreds per year. Newer types of insulin, such as toujeo insulin (or insulin glargine), are low-cost and effective. Your doctor may be able to help you find a lower-priced alternative that will work well for you. As a general rule, long-acting insulin tends to be more expensive than intermediate-acting drugs.
Turn to a Prescription Assistance Program
If you do not have drug coverage, a prescription assistance program may be able to offer more affordable insulin if you meet eligibility requirements. Most programs base eligibility on income, diagnosis, and insurance status and provide low-cost or even free insulin if you qualify.
Compare Your Options When Refilling Prescriptions
If you have prescription coverage, you will need to pay a copay toward your medication every time you refill a prescription. Switching from a 30-day supply to a 90-day or even 6-month supply can reduce your copay significantly. With a long-term, chronic condition like diabetes, it doesn’t make sense to stick with the standard 30-day refill period. Just make sure you don’t order too much of your medication at once. Insulin typically has a shelf life of only 3-6 months. You will also need to check with your insurance provider to make sure you can switch to a 90-day supply.
Where you fill your prescription also plays a significant role in how much you pay. At Walmart, you may get an insulin refill for as low as $25. Walmart tends to offer the lowest insulin prices in the United States, according to one of the authors of the 2015 New England Journal of Medicine commentary on insulin prices. This is due to their broad distribution which allows them to offer lower prices. Membership clubs can also provide competitive prices for insulin. Take the time to shop around at multiple pharmacies in your area to compare costs.
You may also have the option to order diabetes medications from Canada or Mexico. In the past, many people who lived close to the border would drive to Canada to buy insulin at a steep discount, but today you can order insulin from an online Canadian pharmacy. Just be aware that the FDA frowns on the practice because there is a risk of fake or knock off medication.
Healthy Living and Weight Loss
Although there are some instances where weight loss and healthy living won’t directly impact people living with diabetes, it can greatly reduce the need for supplies and other tools. Eating more healthy can significantly improve the amount of insulin used, and if you catch type 2 diabetes early enough, healthy eating, exercise, or medical intervention can stop the disease from growing worse.
Many individuals in circumstances like this find great assistance in metabolic surgery (bariatric surgery) due to it helping the individual eat less, want to eat healthier, reduce weight, and greatly improve quality of life. If you are able to get your diabetes under control, you will save hundreds, if not thousands of dollars each year. Moreover, we often see a diabetes remission rate of between 60-98% depending on the operation performed and the degree of diabetes. In about half our patients, they leave the hospital within a day or two of surgery, diabetes-free!
While safely managing your diabetes can be expensive, it’s important to explore your options to save money on your prescriptions and supplies. It may not seem worth the effort to compare pricing at various pharmacies or attend expos for free supplies, for example, but these measures may help you save significant amounts of money.