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Financial Barriers to Type 2 Diabetes Care

Managing any chronic condition can be expensive, and diabetes is no exception. It is estimated that the total cost of treating diabetes in the United States was $245 billion in 2012. Unfortunately, sometimes this financial burden falls on the people who have diabetes.1

How does diabetes cause financial burden?

Results from our 7th Type 2 Diabetes In America survey show how people manage the financial impact of having type 2 diabetes. One in 4 of the respondents felt that type 2 diabetes had a negative impact on their finances.

The cost of managing diabetes impacted some of the respondents’ care. About 1 in 10 said they have avoided using a certain medicine because of the cost. Having another condition on top of diabetes can also increase the cost of medical care. Of our more than 2,200 respondents, more than half had another condition such as high blood pressure or high cholesterol.

What are some common financial barriers?

As a chronic condition, diabetes can have many costs tied to managing it. Some of the most common expenses that may cause financial problems include:2,3

  • Medicine
  • Transportation to appointments
  • Missing work from diabetes complications
  • Blood glucose test strips and meters
  • Cost of healthy food
  • Appointment copays

Studies have shown that people who struggle to cover the cost of their care face negative outcomes. A greater financial burden often results in worse care or difficulty accessing care. This causes a higher chance of complications like strokes, amputations, sores, and vision problems.2

Available resources for managing financial issues

A healthy diet can be important in managing diabetes. However, healthy foods like fresh fruits and veggies can sometimes be expensive. If you need food assistance, there may be options for healthier options. Some grocery stores sell their surplus or older produce at a discount. Also, some food pantries get special support to provide fresh food.3

There are often programs available that may help you cover some costs. This is an approach that some of the survey respondents have tried. About 16 percent said they have used a financial support system. One program that may help is a State Pharmaceutical Assistance Program, which can help cover drug costs. You can search online to see if your state offers a program like this.3

Other tips for managing the cost of care

Here are some other tips for saving money with type 2 diabetes management:

Talk to your doctor about your financial situation

Though it may be difficult to talk about, it may help to tell your doctor that you have trouble affording diabetes-related expenses. This can help them offer options for saving money. They may be able to offer solutions like less expensive medicine. They also may be able to prescribe different dosing rates. This can reduce the number of pills you need to take and buy.3

Consider how much and where to buy testing strips

A sneaky cost that is part of managing diabetes is buying blood glucose test strips. It may help to ask your doctor for specific instructions on how often you should test your blood glucose based on your medicine and needs. This may limit the number of test strips you need. Also, you can research where the best deals to buy them are. Many stores like Walmart or Costco offer store-brand meters and test strips at a lower cost.3

Control blood sugar to avoid complications

One of the best ways to avoid surprise costs from treating your diabetes is working to control your blood sugar levels. Preventing spikes or dips can help reduce the risk of complications. Complications can become expensive if they result in special care or hospital visits.1

Don't cut back on medication or supplies

If you can avoid it, try not to ration medicine or supplies. This can cause complications and more costs in the long run. Dealing with financial stress on top of a chronic condition can be overwhelming. However, there may be options to lower the cost of your care.1

The 7th Type 2 Diabetes In America survey was conducted online from June through August 2020. The survey was completed by 2,282 people

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