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Diabetes Price Tag Go Away; I’d Like to Play Instead of Pay
September 21, 2010
Meet my husband, the coupon king. If he has a coupon for it, he buys it — whether we need it or not. He paws through every discount table and discontinued items bin at every store he goes into. And buys stuff. Again, whether we need it or not. “It was on sale,” he’ll say in defense of his purchases.
More recently, my computer went haywire and couldn’t be totally repaired (I’m still limping along on it), so he ordered me a new computer. Yes, ordered. It was available in the store, but he could save $30 if he ordered it over the Internet. (There was free shipping.) I’m desperate for a computer — which I use for work — and he can’t shell out an extra 30 bucks? I mean, it was nice of him to buy it for me, but still…
He drives me nuts. On the other hand, I tend to buy what I want, coupon or not. I probably drive him nuts, too.
The point is, he got a new blood glucose meter and it stands to reason, given his proclivity for saving money, he price-shopped. With enlightening results.
First, he went to a pharmacy that is part of a national chain. It was having a sale: Buy 100 of that meter’s strips and get 25 strips free. The cost? One hundred eighteen dollars, or 94.4 cents per strip.
Next was the pharmacy department at a national chain grocery store. Same deal — 125 strips — for $91, or 72.8 cents per strip.
Online? Fifty-four dollars for 100 strips, or 54 cents per strip. Shipping and handling fees probably still wouldn’t have brought the price up to the grocery store, much less the pharmacy.
I don’t know if he bought any strips, or if the gasoline he used by driving hither, thither, and yon erased any savings, but it was an interesting exercise. Of course, that was the cash price and I’m certain our insurance company has a lower negotiated price. It costs us $20 plus 20%. But there’s nothing wrong with saving your insurance company a few bucks: It keeps it from raising rates. Too much. Maybe.
The next day also began with the cost of diabetes, with the arrival of a friend who stopped by on her way home from the pharmacy to buy Lantus and NovoLog insulins for her husband.
“We’ve hit the [Medicare] doughnut hole,” she said. “I don’t know what we’re going to do.”
Don’t know about the doughnut hole? In a nutshell, after you (and Medicare) spend X amount of dollars for prescription drugs, you’re responsible for the full cost until you hit another level, at which point Medicare pays part and you pay part.
Anyway, she was somewhat uncertain as to the cost, but knew it was “over two hundred dollars” for one vial of each at two pharmacies she checked.
I called later and found out that Lantus is $102.88 at the pharmacy she uses and NovoLog is $109.08.
“You might want to talk to your doctor about switching him to ReliOn,” I told her. ReliOn, which is Wal-Mart’s brand, is made by Novo Nordisk. The cost is just shy of $25 per bottle. It isn’t the latest and greatest, but we lived on it for years until today’s more physiological insulins were released. In fact, I use Regular once in awhile, such as when I run short before I can reorder, or if I’m in an area that doesn’t have my pharmacy. It’s inexpensive (relatively, anyway) and doesn’t need a prescription.
Start with just those two things and then add all of the other diabetes-related costs in your life. Substitute oral and other injectable diabetes medicines for insulin: They’re expensive, too. For the newer drugs, that is. Overall, according to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), we pay 2.3 times more in medical costs than people who don’t have diabetes. In my congressional district alone, people with diabetes spent an estimated $233,300,000 in direct medical costs in 2007. (If you’re nosy about your district or state, the ADA has a nifty little calculator. Click here and have some fun.)
Since I’m getting way too close to Medicare age, it’s about time I started clipping coupons or looking on the discounted tables and discontinued bins myself. I did treat myself to a sale recently. A friend is taking her grandson on a Disney cruise and didn’t want to go alone, so I volunteered. It’s the least I could do.
Besides, it was on sale.
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