While an ounce of prevention may be worth a pound of cure, there is generally a cost associated with that ounce. To find out what that cost is, familiarize yourself with your health insurance coverage, and ask questions of your health-care providers up front about the costs of medical care, supplies, and treatment.
If you have prescription drug coverage through Medicare Part D, the provider of your plan must tell you what’s on the plan, how much it will cost, and how you will be able to access it. The plan must also give you 60 days’ notice before they remove a drug that you are using from their plan. If you need a drug that is not covered by your drug plan, you can file an appeal or an exception. (To learn more about Medicare Part D, go to www.medicareinteractive.org and click on “Prescription Drug Coverage (Part D).”)
Your health-care provider can help you make the best use of your prescription drug coverage and may have suggestions for managing costs. For example, if you can take a combination medicine instead of two separate medicines, you may be able to pay one co-pay instead of two.
Your pharmacist may also be able to help you manage costs by determining, for example, how your blood glucose meter and strips are covered by your health plan: Are they covered under your prescription plan, or as durable medical equipment? If the meter you want isn’t covered by your insurance, is there a similar one that is?
When you are referred for diabetes education services, check with the program to see if it meets the requirements for Medicare reimbursement. You will also want to know what coverage you have for further diabetes education in case you’re having difficulties or your diabetes treatment plan changes. To find out about Medicare coverage, go to www.medicare.gov/Coverage/Home.asp, or call (800)-MEDICARE (633-4227). In addition, ask your health-care provider if he is aware of any diabetes teaching or support group sessions in your area that are offered at no charge.
For other living expenses, keep in mind that senior citizen discounts are widely available. For example, some grocery stores offer senior discounts once a week, once a month, or on certain items all the time. Ask at the customer service desks of your local stores to see whether any of them have such programs. Some drugstores also have a senior discount on all or some purchases, and some have discount pharmacy services, usually featuring generic drugs at low prices.
There are also many drug discount cards available that may help you save on drug costs. Your pharmacist may be able to offer guidance on these. Your pharmacist and physician are also likely aware of patient assistance programs, which can help cover the costs of prescription drugs and sometimes of diabetes supplies for people with low incomes or no health insurance or prescription drug coverage. Speak to your physician if paying for your prescription drugs is a struggle; he may be able to point you toward programs that can help.
Some exercise facilities offer discounts to seniors, and many churches and malls have organized walking groups. Even malls that don’t have organized groups offer a free place to walk indoors. With any resource you find, it is important to determine how accessible it is and whether there are any restrictions that may apply, such as availability only on certain days or at certain times.
Change is inevitable, and while you can’t predict exactly what will happen as you get older, it’s reasonable to put safety nets in place now that will provide support in the future if you need it.
Establishing a relationship with a primary health-care provider, diabetes educator, or pharmacist is one place to start. Learning about the resources available to you for staying healthy with diabetes is another.