The other day I saw an article in Time saying that The United States is the most expensive place in the world to live with type 2 diabetes. It got me thinking that I haven’t discussed the financial burden that comes with being diabetic.
This is a standard bottle of insulin. Everyone’s usage varies, but I usually use 1 bottle per month. Being type 1 diabetic, I must take insulin every single day or I will die. So how much does insulin cost?
That’s right. $200 for six bottles of a hormone I do not produce naturally but need to stay alive.
Okay so $400 a year doesn’t sound so bad. But what about getting the insulin in the body?
Well, first you’d have to decide if you want to use traditional syringes, flex pens, or an insulin pump. Since I’m profiling myself, I’ll go the pump route.
Hope you have great insurance to help cover that. If your deductible is several thousand dollars or you are paying entirely out of pocket, many suppliers will offer payment plans to help you out.
Now that you have a pump that will hopefully last you about 4 years, you need supplies.
A box of 10 will last 30 days, since you are supposed to change your site every 3 days. If you’re like me, your insurance will only cover the bare minimum so you better cross your fingers that you never have a site go bad or start bleeding the minute you insert it and have to use more than your allotted 10 per month because you’ll be purchasing those out of pocket yourself.
Same goes for reservoirs, 10 in a box is about a month’s worth.
So you’re at about $6000 for the pump itself, and your insulin is $400 a year, and pump supplies will run $2092 for the year. So for $2500 each year on top of your pump cost, you can stay alive. But wait! You need to check your blood sugar so you know how much insulin you need.
You can probably get your meter for free because meter companies pass them out like candy, because the real money is in the test strips.
I test an average of 6-8 times a day. On a bad day, I can test as many as 15 times. My insurance currently covers me on a copay for 200 strips every 25 days. That equates to 4 strips per day. I have to buy strips on Amazon to supplement.
So there. We’ve covered the major costs for you, but this doesn’t include all the other little hidden costs: pump clips and cases, medical tape, alcohol swabs, juice boxes, glucose sticks, ketone strips, batteries, lancets.
And we didn’t even touch the costs of adding a CGM into the mix.
I’m lucky (for now) to be on my dad’s insurance which is a pretty good policy. Although I’m covered at the bare minimum, my costs are fairly reasonable. Still staggering, but much better than many out there. Of course, this is all a rough example and individual results may vary, but hopefully this has provided insight into just how crazy expensive it is to stay alive in the United States.
The next time you see a stressed out diabetic, just keep in mind that maybe they’re trying to figure out how to keep the lights on and still be able to afford their insulin that month. Maybe their insurance company changed what test strips they’re authorized for and now they’re using a meter and strips that they aren’t used to or don’t like. Be empathetic. Nobody wants to be a financial burden, especially when it certainly wasn’t their choice.