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Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Diabetes Blog Week Day 2 - The Cost of a Chronic Illness

Insulin and other diabetes medications and supplies can be costly.  Here in the US, insurance status and age (as in Medicare eligibility) can impact both the cost and coverage.  So today, let’s discuss how cost impacts our diabetes care.  Do you have advice to share?  For those outside the US, is cost a concern?  Are there other factors such as accessibility or education that cause barriers to your diabetes care?  (This topic was inspired by suggestions from Rick and Jen.)

Budgets have definitely been on my mind lately. I just bought a house (I will stop talking about this soon, I swear!), and am now the proud owner of 30 years of debt. Saving for our house deposit was hard and required some cut backs. It didn't leave us a whole lot of wriggle room for frivolous expenses and I had to include my diabetes as a frivolity.

Where I could cut corners in diabetes expenses I did. Whilst not recommended, my sets averaged about 4 to 5 days instead of 3. I reused reservoirs until well after the writing had disappeared.

I cut back on the amount of blood sugar testing I was doing. My average went from around 10 tests a day, to between 3 to 5.
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$170 - a pretty normal chemist bill for a T1D on an insulin pump - This was for NDSS supplies only, no extras

I rationed 8 boxes of CGM over one and a half years (I'm now on my final box from a subscription I started in January 2016). Now that I actually have to pay back a mortgage, CGM is out. Luckily, my my mum helps with that cost, but I can no longer afford a subscription. I have calculated that I will be able to get 3 boxes over the course of 12 months, that I will mostly use for when I go away for work, as I am hypo unaware at night. I will have to start setting alarms for sleep, and just deal with being tired at work.

The consequence has been worsening glycaemic control. In the world of diabetes, money can make looking after yourself a whole lot easier. I went from A1C's in the perfect range, to the 'average to sub-optimal' range. I dream of the day when I will have good control again, but that requires tools I can't really afford right now. Maybe when I'm retired.

Things aren't about to get any cheaper. Private health insurance prices and private doctors fees rise every year. There are talks of a sugar tax - for me that will be yet another increased expense, and probably result in further worsening glycaemic control if I have to try and increase my BGLs to not have to pay for the luxury of treating a hypo. I have severe gastrointestinal intolerances to jellybeans and lollies - and can only have juice or soft drinks to treat my hypos. I can stomach glucose tabs - but these cost an arm and a leg to get into Australia.

Its hard enough as a young person trying to become independent, own a home and even consider raising a family, without adding the expense of a disease like diabetes on top. Most people my age are struggling, and they don't even have an insulin habit to support. If I said a future with diabetes, expense-wise, didn't scare me - I would be lying.


  1. Congrats on the house!! I am right there with you in making CGMs last. I've been using expired CGMs for forever..eek!

    But I'm sorry to hear it's tough ahead :( I worry about the same things