The average person with diabetes runs up almost $8,000 a year in medical expenses directly related to the disease, according to the American Diabetes Association (ADA).
This is about more than twice as much as someone who does not have diabetes. Extensive medical care, including doctor’s visits, prescription drugs, and supplies like testing strips, are some of the reasons why people with diabetes incur more than twice the amount of health care expenses as those who do not have diabetes. For some, unemployment, low productivity, or missed workdays due to illness also add to the economic burden.
Here’s how you can cut your out-of-pocket costs.
1. Shop online.
You can save money filling prescriptions and shopping online for diabetic supplies, but there are many illegitimate and illegal pharmacies online, so be sure to choose one that is reputable. Use PharmacyChecker.com to check the credentials of online pharmacies and compare prices. You can also verify the legitimacy of an online company that fills prescriptions or sells healthcare products at LegitScript.com.
2. Ask for samples.
Most medical supply companies and drug manufacturers supply healthcare providers with free samples of their products. Ask about samples whenever you visit your physician or diabetes educator. Check out the ADA’s site for the dates and locations of upcoming Diabetes Expos, where free health screenings, classes, and samples are available. You can also contact supply companies directly and ask for samples.
3. Look for sales and coupons.
In addition to flyers and other announcements from your local drug store or pharmacy, check to see if the store publishes a free monthly or seasonal health magazine that may also contain discount coupons. Shop around at different stores, including the big-box department stores, for the best prices on generic and store-brand products. But always compare products to be sure you’re getting a deal. Not all generic and store brands are cheaper in the long run.
4. Check out prescription assistance programs.
Drug manufacturers sometimes sponsor programs that help reduce the cost of medications and supplies. If your health insurance does not provide drug coverage, the Partnership for Prescription Assistance or Together Rx Access prescription savings program can help.
5. Tune in to non-profit and special interest groups.
Try contacting groups that support many different types of health aid, such as the Kiwanis International Clubs and Lions Clubs International. Lions Clubs, for instance, sponsor several programs that screen for vision problems and help prevent blindness, and are particularly supportive of diabetes prevention and control programs. The Kiwanis clubs support a variety of children’s health programs.
6. Skip processed foods, including specialty “diabetic” products.
Prepare balanced meals with as many whole and fresh foods as possible, and you’ll save a significant amount of money in the long run. You’ll also be healthier for it. When you do choose convenience foods, look for sugar-free or low-sugar varieties. But remember that even products specifically targeted toward people with diabetes, such as sugar-free cookies and beverages, are processed foods like any other, with little nutritional value and therefore, little value to your health. They are also more expensive than the food you prepare yourself.
7. Think holistically.
Remember that diabetes is not just about your blood sugar; it can ultimately affect your heart, feet, yes, kidneys and other organs and body parts. The more you take care of yourself as a whole, the less it will cost you in the long term. Cutting back or quitting smoking and drinking alcohol, if necessary, will save you tons of money, improve your health, and likely extend your life. Likewise, committing to good eating and exercise habits will also have the same long-term effects on your health and your bank account.