Paying for Diabetes

What’s your biggest diabetes fear? Complications are scary, but for many, the biggest fear is that diabetes will reduce them to poverty. Others fear that they don’t have enough money for good care or needed supplies.


In America, most people can’t pay for diabetes care without some kind of health insurance. Finding decent insurance can come to rule people’s lives. “I have had diabetes for 55 years,” wrote an anonymous commenter on a recent blog entry by Meagan Esler. “I have spent the majority of my life worrying about insurance coverage. It has impacted every job choice I have ever made. I never had the luxury of picking a job I might enjoy. I had to take whatever job had the best insurance.”

Even with insurance, many people wrote that they were unable to afford supplies. Esler wrote, “I attempted to get an insulin pump but found that even with the insurance I had, it was still thousands of dollars out of reach.”

Aside from health insurance, people with diabetes are much more likely to have economic problems. Studies show that people with diabetes are two and a half times more likely to be unemployed and to live in poverty than people without diabetes.

With diabetes, lack of money can seriously restrict people’s lives. Writing of one of her uninsured times, Esler recalled. “I re-used my syringes until they dulled and became painful… I hardly ever ate, rarely saw the doctor, and barely made ends meet.” One of her commenters wrote that his children had to do without, and they still don’t go out socially, even for “Saturday night out,” because they can’t afford it.

Cost issues can also interfere with doctors’ decisions. Dr. Anne Peters, director of the Clinical Diabetes Program at University of Southern California, says she modifies patients’ treatment based on what they can afford. “Many of the sulfonylurea agents are incredibly cheap and work,” she says, “but they do cause hypoglycemia and weight gain. Still, oftentimes, it’s all a patient can afford.” Other, less aware doctors may prescribe newer, brand name drugs that might be better, not realizing that their patients can’t afford them and will never fill their prescriptions. Many “can’t afford the copays that are required for some of the [newer] drugs,” says Peters

What Can We Do?
If medical costs are impoverishing you, I can think of a few options. Moving to Canada, where they have national health care, might be one. Finding a high-end job with good-quality insurance is another. Becoming poor enough for Medicaid or disabled enough or old enough for Medicare are others. Fighting for a single payer system or Medicare for all would be a long-term solution. But too many people wind up with option five: living a life of poverty and ill health.

The government does try to help a little. The National Diabetes Information Clearing House (NDIC) has a “financial help for diabetes page.” It starts by giving information on applying for Medicare, Medicaid, or SCHIP, the State Children’s Health Insurance Program.

When it comes to private insurance, NDIC says, “Many insurers consider diabetes that has already been diagnosed as a pre-existing condition, so finding coverage may be difficult.” But they go on to say that new laws are making it harder for insurers to exclude people. Here is some good information on buying private insurance from Georgetown University’s Health Policy Institute.

According to NDIC, leaving a job shouldn’t mean immediately losing insurance, because most workers are guaranteed 18 months of continuing coverage (COBRA). But it can be terribly expensive. The US Department of Labor has more info on COBRA here.

If you can’t afford market-rate health care, there are community clinics in many areas. Click on Health Resources and Services Administration or call them at (888) ASK–HRSA (275–4772).

Of course, paying for health care is only one way diabetes can make you poor. Sometimes it keeps employers from hiring you at all. Such discrimination is illegal, but it still happens. The American Diabetes Association can actually help you fight for your rights, sometimes.

And the reality is that, even without discrimination, a lifetime of diabetes can limit the amount and/or the type of work some people can do, because of fatigue, neuropathy, vision problems, or other issues.

I have a feeling our readers know much more on this subject than I do. What has been diabetes’ financial impact on you? How have you managed it? How could society change so this doesn’t happen so much?

Learn more about the health and medical experts who who provide you with the cutting-edge resources, tools, news, and more on Diabetes Self-Management.
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  • jim snell

    Yes, people are right to be afraid and concerned it will reduce them to poverty.

    Any drug regimene that simply makes matters worse rather than stopping rot provides a black hole for medical costs to escalate and burn on unabated.

    The more I read about this searching the web the more depressed I get.

    I am glad I found the path to getting my case under control but no thanks to 28 years on the wrong stupid drug pill answers and its your fault literature and peddling.

    I do not fault our Doctors’ who honestly are doing there best to work but the miosguided “official” dogma solutions that Doctor’s must follow are driving a person further into the ground. That does not need PHD thesis to prove or lab data. Cases are doubling and tripling.

  • Bob Fenton

    If you are a veteran and honorably discharged from the service and are medicare eligible, check out this resource as you may be eligible for VA care –

    It does require a copy of you DD214 and completing an application to get the benefits. As a veteran once excepted you will need to complete a means test report annually to determine your copay for prescription medications.

  • SunnyDee

    Thank goodness my health provider and insurance company worked with me.

    I think if you’re up front with your physician, they will give you a couple of months supply. I told my doctor not to prescribe anything costly because we would be back to square 1 because I wouldn’t be able to afford it.

    He gave me a list of medicines and I came back to the office and called my insurance company. They were able to tell me what my co-pay would be. I then relayed that information back to my physician and we made the choice based on what was affordable.

    Remember, if you do mail orders, sometimes you can get three months supply for the price of one month. Also, check with your physician . . . some pharmaceutical companies offer discount cards. For example, if I were to pay for the Lipitor, it would be $20/month . . . but they have a discount card and all I pay is $4/month.

    If your doctors don’t know what you can/cannot afford, they will prescribe the more expensive meds.

  • Steven Smith

    None of the options you provide (except for #5) under “What You Can Do” are practical, in fact, they are kind of insulting. How many diabetics do you know that could just pick up and move to Canada??? Find a high-end job with better insurance??? Most companies are cutting back on insurance benefits and there are many, many factors that go into finding a new job…

    And to Jim S I would say that doctors should bear some of the responsibility since they are so beholden to the drug companies that pass on their exorbident marketing costs to the consumer.

    The whole frickin’ system is broken but I suppose it’s better than living with national health care like the UK does…oh wait, we’ve got Obamacare!!!!

  • Linda

    How diabetes has effected me….I switched to a meter that used less expensive stripes and try not to test to often. Thanks to a good Dr. my prescriptions are the less expensive type. But, I have a type 1 step-daughter who struggles with the cost of the insulins she uses several times a day.

  • steve davis

    I am much more afraid of having no one to take care of me when I am old, and more afraid of complications. Finances are at most third on my list. Changing state of residence is realistic, but moving to Canada is fantasy. Diabetes medicine is not particularly expensive, either, by today’s standards.

  • SunnyDee

    To Linda, I don’t know what type of insurance you have . . . but the Levemir insulin injection pin (if I went that route) would have been $20/month or $40 for three months supply.

    I take metformin and Victoza for the diabetes, plus Lisinopril and Lipitor. $20/month for 3 pens of Victoza, $8/month for metformin, $4 for Lipitor and $8 for 2 months of Lisinopril.

    Please check with your doctor!

  • Alex Rounds

    Often self-employment is the only job available, and while independence is great, it also has the unenviable factor of no insurance coverage (unless your business is really successful.)

    The costs of healthcare are atrocious. There really is no excuse for drug and supplies manufacturers to charge the incredibly huge fees for a 20-day supply of insulin ($114.00) and enough syringes ($45 for a box,) and test strips ($1 each!!!)

    The generic drugs – Metformin, glyburide, are relatively easy to afford (90 day supply at $10 each)

    But sometimes you have to give something up. Since my testing supplies went missing at an airport I have not been testing, gauging my blood glucose by how I feel. I only go to the MD when necessary – those guys aren’t cheap either.

    I have been courted by some insurance companies who promise for $250/month both my wife and I can have insurance – even with the preexisting conditions. And their formulary contains my drugs at a serious discount.But according to comments on the internet, those companies don’t pay either on time or the full amount expected.

    And bad insurance is one of the causes of a previous bankruptcy – I don’t want to go through that again.

    So I am firmly behind what was President Obama’s original single-payer plan. And before that Clinton’s plan. But I am ever disappointed by politicians and their mealy-mouthed explanations why America can’t have the best medical system for all it’s citizens.

    Sorry for going on for so long.

  • Kris

    I’m a Type I diabetic for 37 years. Insurance salepeople literally hang up as soon as they hear that.

    The Obamacare medial provisions are not really any help. I live in Indiana – we’ve always had a High-risk insurance program from the state. So yes, I can get insurance but there’s no way I can afford the premiums. I’ve had a couple people extoll the virtues of the new health system that will make sure I can be insured. Look closely – I filled out the online form the government offered for their high-risk pool. Again, too expensive. It had a deductible of $3500 per year and the insurance was $800 per month for just me. Perhaps some consider that ‘affordable’ but for me it doesn’t help with daily expensses (insulin, strips, etc). It’s just not an option.

    I’ve found it gnerally (although not always depending on the exchange rate) to get my insulin from Canada. I use an inexpensive meter (my meter use is based on the cheapest strips). I reuse my syringes 6-8 times before I switch. I’m lucky in that I don’t have many side problems and I’m grateful for that but as I get older I fear that my family will be bankrupted at some point by my medical bills.

  • Minerva

    How diabetes affeced my life? First and foremost, despite living in the USA for over 30 years I have never been tempted to apply for US citizenship, even if I would like to vote where I live and not half a world away. But thanks to remaining European, I am in that enviable position that I have been able to move from US to Europe when I took early retirement and – as a diabetic – would have to pay absolutely ridiculous amounts for an individual health insurance in the US. When in Europe I pay a maximum of $300 a year for all doctors and hospitals visit and another $300 maximum for all medications, no matter how expensive.

    While with Medicare advantage here I am expected to spend almost $2000 a year for the privilege of being insured plushigh copays for medications plus the infamous donut hole. If my daughter did not live here, I would never set my foot in the USA again, as it is a very unfair country towards the majority of its citizens and residents.

    • Samantha Harrison

      Minerva, I visited the U.K. with my mother several times and stayed in England, in Rye, Sussex. This was back in the 1970s, but nobody that I recall from living there ever complained about not being able to get decent health care. I have type 1 diabetes and have been laid off from two non-profit jobs in the USA, and am thoroughly fed up with the position in which I find myself. I am starting a new job in late August, but I am seriously considering moving to another country in the future. Diabetes has drastically affected my financial circumstances. Nobody seems to understand that having a non-functioning pancreas costs at least $500 a month more, and that is a very conservative estimate. Type 1 diabetics, especially, should NOT be punished for a condition that is autoimmune and that they had no control over. In Canada, all of the medical care and costs for autoimmune conditions are covered. I am sure there are some drawbacks, but I have met people who went to Canada and did not complain. One gentleman I know from Central PA plans to move to Toronto when he retires.

  • Hakker

    I lost my job and insurance a little over 3 yrs ago. I’ve had Type 1 for 39 yrs and my wife has type 2 for 12 yrs. When I went to get my own insurancethe cheapest I could find was $3000/mo for me and $920/mo for my wife. Who can afford it? We are barely paying for insurance for my wife. Luckily I am a vetran and after being turned down twice, a month before I ran out of insulin they accepted me so are now helping me with my medical needs. I didn’t know what I was going to do until then – my insulin alone would cost me $125/wk! My only worry is the VA where I live doesn’t support the pump so if my pump fails I will have to go back to shots and with the pump my A1C is less than 6.5.

  • joan

    At age 22 I developed Type 1; newly married with a baby. We quickly realized that we would have to do whatever it took to keep me healthy and provide for our baby. It turned out moderately OK for us and it was not all luck… needs to plan, to seek, and to learn and then decide what is most important and work towards that goal especially with a chronic disease or illness! Of course the best planning does not always work out for everyone.

    The only issues that frighten me living with Type 1 diabetes today, 2011, is IF the AFFORDABLE CARE ACT is Appealed, and MEDICARE support decreased in some way.

  • Sue Palmer

    Yes, the financial strain that Diabetes has placed on me is frightening. I am on insulin and the Apidra is covered thankfully – though I also need Symlin to help the Apidra do its job. Unfortunately for me I can no longer afford the Symlin injections. It used to be covered until my employer changed insurance companies – suddenly I was informed that the new company considered Symlin a drug rather than an insulin and it now is an additional $80.00 plus a month. Symlin really helped keep my blood sugars down where they should be but without being able to purchase the drug my sugars have gone up again. I just reached a point where I could no longer afford one more drug to purchase monthly. I am disabled and a former government worker the last 5 years before becoming disabled so I fall under the windfall tax which means the government takes 2/3rds of my social security (I end up with $200 a month). I have worked all my life and am a widow. Most of my work was in the private sector and I had paid in all my quarters so social security but that does not matter because the last 5 years were with the government who did not participate in social security (it saved them money not to participate!). I did qualify for a widow’s benefit – of which they take 2/3rds out also so that I get around $380 a month – which is better than the $200 – but not enough to live on. I have a small gov. pension. I have been on disability and receiving payments from them – however now they tell me that that ends when I reach 66 next July – this because I will qualify for social security – well, since the last 5 yrs the gov. did not collect social sec. from me I now cannot qualilfy for anymore help, nor can I go on social security disability. It is a mess – in a few months I will not be able to afford health ins. or medicine! Let alone pay my rent. This after both my husband and I paid into social security all our lives. This whole thing is insane. The stress level for me is over the top. I don’t see how the disability insurance can end for me since I cannot work???? I guess I have a real battle on my hands. It won’t be easy because I do not just have diabetes = but a host of other medical problems as well. As they say, no one promised me life would be a “rose garden”!

  • Connie Stuart

    I have had type 1 diabetes for 55 years. Diabetes is an expensive disease. Fortunately I was a medical technologist and had good insurance while I was able to work. I had to apply for disability after a second heart surgery. The Cobra is very expensive. Now I have Medicare and my concern now is the number of doctors that are not taking any new Medicare patients.


    I,ve had diabetes for years..we had a great health plan up to 2 yrs co-pays for insulin were only $8.00..any diabetes PX were $8.00..then the company my husband worked for changed to Blue forget it..I have not filled a PX for any of my diabetes meds..needles cost $26.00 for 100..test strips are $100.00 for I don,t test my blood sugars…insulin is out of reach..$198.00 per PX..I take 4 shots per day.and I beg my Dr. for samples every time I need it..I,m so scared that one time he won,t have any..what I,m I to do then..die..there is a free clinic here but they told me to drop my insurance or they can,t help me..I,m at my wits end.can get a break either way..and I,m not entailed to medicaid or medicare..they say my husband makes to much money..we have a free clinic here but they said to drop my insurance or they can,t help me..they even suggested I leave my husband of 25 years so I can get free meds from the companys that make then..WTH..


    and we pay 149.00 per month for insurance w/ a $5300.00 per yr deductible..

  • richard galla

    your comment of being poor enough to receive medicaid is not entirely correct. in the state i live in, you must be determined to be disabled to receive it. i have tried twice to get medicaid and have been refused twice because i was not ruled disabled. i have diabetes and extreme high blood pressure. but according to the state, those do not qualify me as disabled.

  • Glenda Strayer

    First DX type II diabetes in 1998. Started with all of the Metformin,and sulfylonureas- many problems with dosage and ultimately my body reacted adversely to all of them. As of 2010, March, I am exclusively using Lantus/Novolog and finding a great deal of success with them- the downside is that they are not generic and therefor the bill is about $400 every 90 days- plus the bloodwork and testing strips and needles. I also take blood pressure meds(generic)Simvistatin, as well as a C-pap and those supplies. My employer is shifting the Insurance around this year and I am “obsessing” about how it will actually work next year- there will be increases in what I will pay out of pocket- I am lucky enough to be age 68 3/4 and due to being a surviving widow I am on full Social Security plus I work “full time”, ie, 35 hrs weekly. I plan on being out of the fulltime pattern after I reach 70 when my own Social Security will be available- I then plan on continuing work for two more years. Hopefully, my two remaining children at home will finish their college educations and be working and paying back their student loans even if they still live with me. I am using a Medical Reimbursement account next year which is part of my employers way of easing the extra costs- I also started using a Health Debit Card last year which I prepay through pretax dollars from my payroll- that has made planning the medicine purchases much less of a shock- but I still feel apprehensive every time I order.

  • PAT

    First it in funny how Obama is brought into every conversation LOL. Now diabetis is no joke. I am insraunce thur my hubbies job. Yes it is hard to get my medications and I feel like crap when I have to ask the dr for help…I also have asthma and that medication is thur the roof. I have gotton samples from him many times…I had to such it so to speak. diabetic meds are reasonable priced thur the insurance….but I used to get 100 strips for 30 dollars…I noticed this time around I only got 50 for 30 dollars. There is no way when you have already got insurance that you can get any assistance when you have more month then money. I tried to get a medication for asthma the first they ask was did I have insurance. No help for those who are not disabled, veterens, or who work and need jut a helping hand. They made me feel like crap. I would rather die than ask for help from them anymore.

  • Roger Stiefel

    I see many folks talking about the price of test strips. Go to WalMart and pick up a ‘sidekick’ meter. Its a meter that is built into the cap of the test strip vial. Meter and 50 strips for $19.99 plus tax. My question is, if WalMart can make a profit selling a meter AND 50 strips for $20, why does Roche deserve $115 for 100 strips for their meter??? Simple answer, is that the insurance company pays it, and the customer/patient is only worried about the co-pay amount. I say we all revolt and just pay cash for cheap strips. When the strip makers are no longer getting fat checks from insurance co.s they will be forced to compete on price as well as quality. If we can get some true market forces at work we can get the prices of all of these supplies down dramatically.

    There is absolutely no logical reason that these strips and basic supplies should be priced so exorbitantly!

  • Sally mettler

    I have recently added a quick acting insulin to my diabetes regimen . I take 5 shots a day and check my blood sugar 4 times a day. It is difficult to coordinate my regimen with my activities. the donut hole comes quickly for me because I take 24 different drugs a day. The donut hole costs me several thousands of dollars. Whoever planned the presription plan was stupid to think that older people could afford the donut hole. Now that I’m past the donut hole westill have copays and some drugs aree not covered. I have tried to take as many generic drugs as possible. Something has to give people who are seriously I’ll need more help with drugs.

  • Toni

    Hello, I’m unemployed and living on unemployment benefits and Medicaid presently. When my Medicaid was cut when I was first diagnosed with Diabetes I panicked. Then went online and researched free medical assistance programs. I received 6 months of insulin pens/needles twice and also my PCP gives me samples when I run out of insulin. I went to WalMart and got a cheap meter and strips > I have many meters depending on the price of the strips until Medicaid was turned back on and now I get the strips @CVS with my prescription. I found that the strips were the most frustrating and expensive necessity. I was also (when not on Medicaid) going to the community health care pharmacy and able to get 100 strips @$20. I get my Crestor free from the Manufactor. The Medicaid issue is a nuisance but the only health care insurance I have right now so every 6 mths I send in my medical expenses including Diabetes supplies/insulin, Tamoxifen (Breast cancer) and Crestor to my worker to satisfy the spenddown with Medicaid. The total cost if I paid out of pocket would be close to $1000 per month. I’m thankful for the Medicaid for now and pray that I will get a position with good health insurance benefit soon.
    Hope this information can help someone.

  • Kate Long

    Why not point out high in your post that the Affordable Care Act (health reform, Obamacare) does not let insurance companies deny diabetics – or anybody with a pre-existing condition – coverage? My guess is that many people do not know this. If the Supreme Court lets the health reform law stand, many of these worries will disappear.

  • J. Johnson

    My brother is a diabectic and right now he is in the process trying get disability and can not aafford all of his medicine even though he has insurance . He falls between the crackers for help because his wife is working. Is there any help out there anywhere.

  • David Spero RN

    J Johnson, there are ways to reduce costs of medicines. Ask the doctor for cheaper ones. Metformin is practically free, and most generics aren’t too costly. Some drug companies offer help with paying for their products.

    See some of the other advice readers have posted above.

  • Mary

    I was diagnosed with diabetes in 2005 and began treating it with diet and exercise, no luck. I was put on metformin plus diet and exercise with little results, later glipizide was added but my sugars were still out of control over 200. In 2009, I lost my job and my insurance and with it access to healthcare and medications. I did find a job a few months later that provided insurance and I was making strides but my sugars were still to high, that doctor told me whatever happens don’t go without medication again. Well I lost that job in the spring of 2011 and again no more insurance or healthcare. I can’t afford to pay cash to see a doctor and I don’t qualify for medi-Cal(medicaid) because I am not disabled. My sugars are frequently over 250 sometimes 300. I don’t know where to turn for help. I have a 12 hour per week job but no health coverage is offered. My husband is retired and I can’t get coverage through him.

  • David Spero RN

    Hi Mary,

    Please read through the comments on this thread — there are many suggestions in there that might help. Perhaps your county has some public health programs that might help.

    You said you “tried diet and exercise, no luck.” I encourage you to try it again, with a heavy emphasis on vegetables, protein, beans, and physical movement.

  • jim snell


    I am curious about Mary’s case.

    I would ask following ( as layman and not Doctor) reviewing my own experince:

    a) how many calories per day and how many miles walking? In my case was 1200 calories on mediterranen style diet and two miles walking.

    b) if liver dumping bad on sub 70 readings during day and on Dawen effect – need to trap with meter readings at midnight; 3:00 am and morning.

    c) Metformin can help but what is dose and timing being used? At night or in morning?

    d) readings suggest to me that body is badly saturated on glucose and liver hammering higher on dawn effect.

    e) this was not easy to stop in my case but:

    tight diet, extra exercise and metformin of sufficient dose at night needed to stop dawn effect. It needs to be emphasized that nasty liver leaks/release will override diet/exercise effects and bang BG too high.

    f) in my case, also needed to ensure sufficient carbs throught day to prevent BG going sub 70 and causing a bad liver leak/dump.

    g if insulin too low in body do to weak/swamped pancreas can cause liver to badly misbehave and release far too much glucose on a valid liver cycle – sub-70, dawn effect etc. Unfortuantely body design and liver control work on reverse of insulin level. If Insulin too low, liver assumes – no glucose/glucose too low and body needs more glucose (NOT).

    In my case, diet and exercise effects did not become useful and prominent effect/results till liver bad behaviour arrested and this can take quite a few weeks to straigten out.

    One needs to work with good/excellent Doctor/endo/team to resolve this nasty issue.
    I would not give up on diet but realize there may be some medical misfies – liver needing correction to get whole package running right.

    Best wishes and good luck.

  • Jade

    i am a type on diabetic. was dx in 2006:….i had medi-cal until i moved to georgia with my family. then i was cut off because the age cut off was 19years old…its been so stressful. sometimes i contemplate suicide. i was lucky i had a year and a half of pump suplies left from california. i found a free clinic that told me about an assistance program that novonordisk had. the insulin company gives me free insulin every three months. it was also stressful because i didnt have a job for two years due to the bad economy at the time. i have a part time job but i only work mmaybe twenty hours a week. im skating on thin ice. ive been using my financia aid grants to buy pump supplies….i messed up my grades tryin to work as many hours as i could and i lost my grant….now im suffering. my free clinic told me they couldnt see me anymore because they cant do anything for me….i am depressed and scared. i may never be able to move out of my moms house. we live in such poverty it sickens me…if anyone knows where i can get some help with this diabetes so i can live a somewhat normal 23year old life that would be great.

  • Diane Fennell

    Hello Jade,

    I’m sorry to hear that you’re going through such a difficult time. There are a number of programs that may help. First off, many of the pharmaceutical manufacturers have programs to help people who qualify receive medicines at no or reduced cost, including the following:

    Lilly TruAssist:

    Takeda Patient Assistance Program:

    Sanofi Patient Connection:

    Novo Nordisk Patient Assistance:

    (Lilly, Sanofi, and Novo Nordisk are all insulin manufacturers.) Googling the name of a manufacturer along with “patient assistance program” can help you find more of these programs.

    Retailers such as Meijer, Publix, Kroger, and Wal-Mart also sometimes offer certain diabetes medicines for free or at reduced prices. You can learn more about that at the following locations:

    The savings cards referenced in the second article may also be of use.

    There is also a Web site that can help you compare the cost of medicines from one retailer to the next in your area. That can be found here:

    You might also be interested in our article “Getting a Hand From Social Agencies”:

    Finally, if you are feeling suicidal, please reach out to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at (800) 273-8255.

    I hope that these resources are helpful and wish you the best of luck.

    Diane Fennell
    Web Editor

  • David Spero RN

    Hi Jade,

    You are going through a really hard time. I know many of our readers will be thinking of you. Check out Diane’s suggestions.

    Perhaps your school has a disability office that might help you get your grant back, or there’s another way to continue your education.

    You definitely need some emotional and practical support. Maybe you can find a support group; there are a lot of them in Georgia. You might also try online support like at tudiabetes, or Daily Strength, or just do a search for diabetes support.

    Poverty and illness are a hard combination. Look for positives in your life. Remember this is just a phase. Things do change. Keep strong.

  • Shin

    My mum is a diabetic, and used to pay who knows how much each year for pharmaceutical prescriptions. After learning about natural cures for diabetes and following a natural treatment, she is now off her meds and is in control of her blood sugar levels.
    Not to mention she has improved her health in terms of weight, and lifestyle. Mind you they were probably the contributing factors to her diabetes in the first place, and this is where I think traditional medicines fail to address.

  • larry shaffer

    ive been taking livamir injections for 4 years now,after being put on full disability the copay is 110.00 im taking 13 diffrent meds since ive had 6 stents put in after 3 heart attacts,i cant afford this copay,the other neds all have generic and im paying 8.00 or less for most of them …is there a
    generic or can i get assistance blood sugar was over 300 now with this and other meds its down to 125 or lower most of the times please help me thank you

  • David Spero RN


    Novo Nordisk has an assistance program for people on Levemir at

    There are also much cheaper insulins available, but it seems the Levemir is working for you, so I hope you can get some help with it.

    By the way, 13 different medicines is probably too many — you might ask your doctors which ones you can phase out.

  • allhopelost

    Thank you for all the advice. I know to try to enjoy what little time I have left with my husband. We can’t afford to take him to any doctors even for a diagnosis. We know he’s diabetic from his symptoms and we were finally able to get a meter and test strips. But he’s lost so much weight over the past year,and I can imagine the damage done to his heart and kidneys. But he is getting to spend time with his granddaughter when he feels ok. And we’re thankful for that. ūüôā

  • Raymond Strayer

    I have Medicare and am disabled. I am 42 years old, and really intelligent, but cannot get a job for fear of losing my insurance. Even with my disability I can not afford supplies. People, Medicare for Elderly or disabled only pays 80%, which would be great if I had a reasonable income, but I do not, I get $990 a month and that is high compared to some, because I had high paying tech jobs and had high credits. Needless to say, rent is half my monthly money and utilities and food eat up the rest. How am I supposed to pay my 20%? The insulin pump company lied to me to get me to take a pump, they even brokered the deal through a third party supplier, I told them I could not afford the $300 every 3 months for supplies for the pump. Monthly I paid $13 in co-pays for my insulin, $12 in test strips, and $19 for pen needles for the insulin. They convinced me if I took the pump that this other provider would give me the supplies for what medicare paid without my contribution. Now I am getting bills and the pump company has sold their pump but I am unlikely to be able to use it. And my condition is much improved with it…….

  • karyn-ann

    Hello reading all ur comments are making me apprehensive, im British and im looking into moving to New York to start a new life with my boyfriend who is an american citizen. I currently get all my medication for free on our free national health service and i was wondering about the USA health sector. Im taking Nova Rapid during the day and Lantis at night because im also type 1. I take metformin and losartin and i have the strips also for my glucoman blood machine. Not too many meds i feel, breaths a sigh of releif but i cant really rest until i find out about your health service. I hope that everything works out in the United States for me regarding my health i have to say i am really worrid about it and this could stop me from being with the only man i ever want to spend my life with. Thank you for all the comments they have helped me and i wish you all the best xx.


  • Bill

    My doctor just prescribed me Victoza. I went to the pharmacy and they told me it would be over $200.00 a month. I have Medicare A B D and a supplement, but I cannot afford the Victoza, I am going to have to call my doctor and tell him that I can’t afford it. Is there any help out there?

  • Linda

    I work for Our goal is to help people afford their medications. Every day we receive emails from consumers asking for help. We know that the price of prescription medications is outrageous, and it is especially difficult to afford if you have no prescription drug coverage. I just want to let everyone know that our site is 100% free. We offer prescription coupons, OTC drug coupons, free medication trial offers, free health products and a free drug discount card. We have a database of over 14,000 medications, including diabetes medications. If you are looking to reduce your drug costs, please visit our website; you’ll be glad you did.

  • TJ

    I just started a new job in Georgia. I love my job. I got the insurance and(United Healthcare) and signed up for the plan with the lowest pay rate. Turns out that gave me the High Deductible($4000). I found a Doctor in network and had my appointment, he wrote prescriptions for my Insulin. I went to the Wall Mart Pharmacy and was told that my insurance would not cover my medication because I have not yet met the Deductible. I just got the insurance and did not realize that my medication would be denied. And to pay cash was not an option. The insulin was $1600 in total because I take 2 different kinds. Even to buy 1 kind, 1 vial would be $189.00 that I did not have. And I am totally out of medication. I wanted to just fall down and cry. I felt so helpless in that moment. Now I am home trying to figure out my next move. Will the Dr help me, or is there any medication assistance? If I can’t change my insurance plan, what am I to do, JUST DIE? Does anyone care about the people who need meds that help keep them alive???

    • caitlin

      I know it’s so frustrating I haven’t been able to find an assistance program to help anyone that has private insurance except for Lantus which I am allergic to. My deductible is 5000 a year I was turned down for Medicare and the hospital is no longer getting samples in cases of emergency it really does feel like no one cares if you die I was diagnosed with type one 3 years ago it’s hard enough to deal with the disease without having to worry about getting your insulin I almost feel like it would be easier to drop insurance altogether so I could get assistance not to mention I make minimum wage so my insurance costs ten times as much as it would if I made twice as much money because idaho did not expand medicare

  • Diane Fennell

    Hi TJ,

    I’m sorry to hear that you’re going through such a difficult time. There are a number of programs that may help. First off, many of the pharmaceutical manufacturers have programs to help people who qualify receive medicines at no or reduced cost, including the following:

    Lilly TruAssist:

    Takeda Patient Assistance Program:

    Sanofi Patient Connection:

    Novo Nordisk Patient Assistance:

    (Lilly, Sanofi, and Novo Nordisk are all insulin manufacturers.) Googling the name of a manufacturer along with “patient assistance program” can help you find more of these programs.

    Retailers such as Meijer, Publix, Kroger, and Wal-Mart also sometimes offer certain diabetes medicines for free or at reduced prices. You can learn more about that at the following locations:

    The savings cards referenced in the second article may also be of use.

    There is also a free app that can help you compare the cost of medicines from one retailer to the next in your area. That can be found here:

    You might also be interested in our article “Getting a Hand From Social Agencies”:

    I hope that these resources are helpful and wish you the very best of luck.

    Diane Fennell
    Web Editor

  • David Spero RN

    Hi TJ,

    In addition to Diane’s excellent advice, you should talk to your doctor about changing to a much cheaper insulin. Some of them are quite affordable.

    Control on an older insulin may not be as tight as on a basal + rapid acting plan, but you can do quite well with it. You might need to put more energy into self-management, but you sound like you are capable of doing that.

  • charles

    due to illness and a lifetime of maintenance for lantus type insulin, we now cannot afford the lantus my wife needs. our doctor had us submit paperwok to sanofi for help with the associated costs sinc my wife is now in the donut hole of her medicare policy and we got a letter today from sanofi saying we draw too much money from our disability incomes and they denied giving us any help. We did the right thing by sending income statements of ssa benefits received by both of us and wound up being denied. my wife and I are going to look into getting a divorce and then we would have separate incomes and she may be eligible then. we truly do not know what to do. she has a need of between 2 to 3 bottles of lantus each month and the pharmacy charges, with medicare coverage 108.00 per bottle because she is in the donut hole. She has had triple bypass surgery and the instigation of at least 11 stents to create better blood flow and has heart medications, pain medications,and maintenance medications of at least 18 kinds each day that she takes. we have lost our family home we built when we got married and our business had to also be sold. we had ira contributions set up for retirement totaling 100,000.00 and that is all gone. We literally do not know what else to do because without proper treatment on a daily basis she will die. I am going to contact an attorney on monday, today being sunday, and see what the charge is for us to divorce and live together. then we each would have separate incomes and hopefully we will then qualify. our family docto’s nurse told my wife she had never seen an instance where sanofi denied coverage but they turned us down flat. we have income together which actually leaves us in the poverty range as far as incomes are concerned and we have outstanding debts from trying to live equal to our current income.

  • Craig Fisher

    I am disabled, have a Medicare insurance plan, I hit my coverage gap only 6 months into my plan this year. I only clear $1277 a month and have to pay rent and other regular expenses. I take 17 different medications and the copays are ridiculous so I pick and choose EVERY month between med’s and food. I also can’t afford to eat as healthy as I should be. I also am Bi-Polar and the medications for it are extremely expensive as well. I don’t know what to do, it seems like no one will help those of us on disability and STILL live well below poverty and can’t afford to eat and buy medications. I have had 4 hip replacements on the same hip and two dislocations that they tore the meniscus in my knee while RE locating my hip one of the two times it came out so therefore I also live in chronic pain and they can’t seem to be able to fix my hip. WHAT CAN I DO ??? PLEASE HELP ME, I BEG OF YOU !

  • Lisa Howell


    First off THANK GOD I found this site. It has a wealth of information! I have two TYPE 1 daughters. My oldest daughter is currently 20 and she will be losing the diabetes assistance program she’s on upon her next birthday. This page is exactly what I was searching for.

    Secondly, living with diabetes and all that comes with it does take a toll on physical and mental well being, but we must continue on. I’ve seen both of my daughters struggle through many emotional times, but as their mother, I am proud of them and the strength they’ve shown me. They are my inspiration.

    Not having diabetes, but being affected by diabetes has directed my life & my thoughts. My hope is that all of these hurting & confused people find the help they need!

    God Bless,
    Lisa Howell

  • Susan Stanley

    i need financial help with paying for doctor-ordered labwork such as a1c and cholesterol testing. any suggestions? i live in nc

  • Sokanon567

    Why does everyone act like Canada’s national heathcare covers insulin. My brother-in-law is a lifelong Canadian resident and an insulin diabetic. Has been most of his adult life. He now a semi-retired Pastor and 64 years old. His insulin cost him $500.00 a month because Canada won’t cover it. Him and my sister are having a hard time to afford this. Where is the help for Canadians? Anyone know?

  • Steven

    As a Diabetic, can sympathize. Live in Tampa pretty my whole life. Costs are brutal. I haven’t seen a specialist in a few years. I would love to go on a pump, but financially it is just a pipe dream.