(BPT) - Approximately 30 million people in the U.S. are living with diabetes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Many require insulin to manage their condition, but due to rising costs, more and more people are struggling to get the medication they need.
According to a recent survey of diabetes educators who help people living with diabetes, people struggling to afford their medications are rationing and avoiding filling prescriptions due to cost. This is particularly true for those who are uninsured. Previously, the greatest challenge diabetes educators faced in helping patients was related to exercise and healthy lifestyle, as well as frequent glucose testing. Today, those challenges have been eclipsed by affordability concerns.
Nearly two-thirds of educators report that their patients ration their medications through actions like cutting tablets or decreasing their insulin dosage on their own, according to the survey conducted at the American Association of Diabetes Educators Annual Conference by Inside Rx. Perhaps worse, 57% of educators reported their patients don’t take their medications at all.
Taking diabetes medication as prescribed is important for managing the condition and staying healthy. Complications from not using medication appropriately may lead to kidney damage and the need for expensive dialysis treatments, eye damage and potential blindness, as well as an increased risk for heart disease or stroke.
If you or a loved one is living with diabetes, you are likely familiar with the expense associated with the medications needed to manage the condition. Consider the following tips to reduce your prescription costs:
1) Ask your health care team: Ask your doctor about your options. There may be samples you can have to fill a short-term need, or your doctor may be able to switch you to a different medication that is more affordable.
2) Ask the pharmacist: See what suggestions your pharmacist might have. They may offer insight as well as information about generic alternatives. You can also do some comparison shopping for the best price in your area as some pharmacies may charge less than others for the same medication.
3) Use a free Rx discount card: Inside Rx, for example, offers a card that gives you an average savings of 40% off on brand-name medications, such as insulins, and 80% off generic products. This can help curb costs when purchasing the medications at over 50,000 participating pharmacies or via home delivery through Express Scripts. There's no registration, and you can download the card at insiderx.com.
4) Explore financial aid opportunities: Some pharmaceutical companies offer patient assistance programs for people who qualify to receive discounted or free diabetes medication and supplies. According to the American Diabetes Association, the following three insulin manufacturers offer assistance programs:
- Lilly Diabetes Solution Center: 833-808-1234
- Novo Nordisk Diabetes Care: 800-727-6500
- Sanofi Patient Assistance Program: 888-847-4877
To best manage your diabetes and stay as healthy as possible, medical providers and diabetes educators recommend taking all medications on time as prescribed. If you struggle with the cost of insulin and other diabetes supplies, these tips can help you curb expenses so you can live healthier and stay on budget.