Around the same time, diaTribe launched an interesting blog series on access to diabetes care which focused on key topics like money-saving strategies, private insurance, workplace benefits, and Medicare.
Their August 28th (2017) submission, "10 Ways to Save Money on Diabetes Care" by Emma Ryan, gives great tips on how patients can get less expensive drugs, find discount programs and get free care in clinical trials.
People with diabetes spend $5,000 more on average for medical care than people without diabetes. Due to these extreme costs, a significant number of people with diabetes reduce or delay medication to save money.
The money-saving strategies below can help to control those costs.
- The first tip is to compare pharmacies to find the least expensive drugs. Ryan makes a good point in that local pharmacies (including the chains) don't offer the best value, and that a great place to start is by asking your doctor and healthcare team about online/mail order options (like the kind we offer) to fill prescriptions. We further applaud Ryan's strong recommendation that people consult with LegitScript to make sure that the online pharmacy is legal, legitimate and trustworthy.
- Purchase healthy foods that control blood sugar levels. We also like how Ryan recommends freezing fruit and vegetables using a terrific guide from the National Center for Home Food Preservation.
- The third way may perhaps be the most important advice given in this blog: find diabetes education near you and focus on "TODAY" benefits. We especially like how Ryan asserts that "group education is often less expensive than one-on-one visits with your physician." She refers to the AADE (American Association of Diabetes Educators) website for programs covered under Medicare and most insurance plans. This site provides great lifestyle tips like cooking, grocery shopping, walking after meals and better sleep patterns - all of which offset high blood sugar levels and can have positive long-term benefits when practiced on a daily basis.
- Clinical trials - the fourth way - can give you access to free care and supplies, and contributes to important research. Ryan cites the JDRF's Clinical Trials Connection which links people by location, as well as condition, and she urges readers to consult with their physician before considering a trial.
- The fifth point may appear to be self-evident, but many people are not comfortable with or don't see the benefit of having a conversation with their healthcare team about lower-cost options. They feel that the team may be trying to get them to spend more money on care, and they simply don't trust them. In this case, it is good to get second opinions from other physicians, or other clinical diabetes educators.
- The next three points - use coupon and discount programs, pick the right insurance plans, and stay in-network and get a referral - also seem like obvious alternatives, but Ryan digs deeper and offers excellent solutions that people do not always consider. A great example is Ryan's advice to check your insurance plan's "formulary list" to find out which drugs are covered and how they are covered. "Tier 1" drugs typically have the lowest out-of-pocket cost, while "Tier 3" drugs are considered "non-preferred" and cost more out-of-pocket.
- Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs) - the ninth tip - enables people to use pre-tax dollars to cover health care expenses that are not covered by their employer-sponsored insurance. The tricky part is determining how much to set aside, since one loses any unused money that is not spent within the year.
- The tenth and final way - Patient Assistant Programs - is one in which they dedicate an entire blog in their series. It is an excellent initial point that people can afford prescription drugs through these programs, which are made available through the government, manufacturers and non-profit organizations. It is important to note that home delivery medical suppliers have experience in working with these programs when helping their patients gain better access to prescription drugs and diabetes supplies.
We applaud diaTribe for initiating this conversation on affordability and access, and we encourage our patients and readers to tap into their website to explore all the fantastic resources they make available.