July 7, 2015

A few simple steps can reduce the day-to-day expense of treating diabetes

Americans with diabetes spend almost $14,000 per person every year on diabetes medications, supplies and medical care, according to a 2012 American Diabetes Association study. That’s pricey news for the approximately 600,000 Tennesseans with the disease.

Here are some tips from Vanderbilt specialists that may help reduce your diabetes costs:

  1. Review your insurance plan. Contact the customer service number on the back of your insurance card or review your policy to make sure you’re using your insurance company’s preferred pharmacy, medications and glucose meter. Your diabetes supplies might have better coverage under your durable medical equipment benefits instead of your pharmacy benefits.
  2. Consider a mail order pharmacy. Sometimes you can save on copayments by ordering a 90-day supply of medication instead of a 30-day supply. You may also save money by ordering a 90-day supply at your local pharmacy.
  3. Look for discount offers from drugmakers and suppliers. Contact the maker of your medication or pump to see if it offers discounts or patient assistance programs.
  4. Comparison shop between pharmacies to find the lowest out-of-pocket costs for your medications and supplies.
  5. Conserve test strips. Many insurance policies limit the number of glucose test strips they will pay for. A common limit is 200 strips per month, although some policies allow fewer. A letter from your doctor can’t override your policy. You may not have to test your blood glucose more than four times a day if you’re keeping your diabetes under control. It’s usually wise to ask school nurses or other caregivers not to test without good reason.
  6. Consider using a store-brand meter and strips instead of brand-name meters if you’re paying out of pocket, or if you find you need more strips than are covered.
  7. Go back to syringes. For most people, they are cheaper than insulin pens and pumps.
  8. If you have children with diabetes, investigate programs that offer medical grants or assist with diabetes costs. For instance, the UnitedHealthcare Children’s Foundation or the Administration for Children & Families may assist if you meet their criteria.

Looking for more ways to save and cut diabetes costs? Talk to your endocrinologist about how to best manage your diabetes and learn more at Vanderbilt Health.


To schedule an appointment at the Eskind Diabetes Center call 615-343-8332 for adult care and 615-322-7842 for children’s care.