Diabetes - you're doing it wrong

what $547.63 looks like
This is my 90 day supply of insulin. It costs $547.63.
My Minimed pump that delivers insulin over the course of the day costs about $5000 and should be replaced each time its five year warranty expires. The infusion sets and tubing that compliment the pump cost about $250 every 90 days. My blood glucose meter is pretty cheap but the test strips for it cost $187 for 200 which barely lasts me 30 days. I don't bother trying to get reimbursed for the alcohol swabs, lancets, AAA batteries, or other incidentals related to my disease, but on a monthly basis it costs over $450 a month just for the bare necessities to manage my health. That doesn't include copays for my quarterly endocrinologist appointments and blood work.

I cannot imagine what my life would be like if I didn't have good health insurance. It's not a luxury for me, it's a car payment's worth of cost to me every month (that thankfully gets reimbursed by my insurance but requires the cash flow to afford in the first place).

If I were to get pregnant, I would need to test my blood sugars twice as often as I do now which would double the cost of test strips. I would also need significantly more insulin throughout the pregnancy so that in the third trimester I could be using three times as much insulin as I do now. And I would be considered a "high risk pregnancy" so I would need to go to specialists and need additional tests.

I would really like to have a continuous glucose monitor to help catch high blood sugars sooner, but insurance won't cover any of those costs without a lot of persistence and only occasional success. I'm going to start that battle next week after I talk to my endocrinologist. The sensors for the Dexcom monitor are $60 each and last approximately 7 days (your mileage may vary). That's another $240 a month in maintenance costs.

As I get older, the chances for complications to my health go up but I haven't really seen a lot of revolutionary progress in ways to manage - let alone cure diabetes since I was diagnosed in 1985. The Associated Press released an article today that diabetes drug costs have doubled over the last six years, reaching over $12.5 billion last year. Sure, they're talking about the 90% that have Type 2 diabetes versus the 10% like me, but I'm sure we're a factor in there.

After a day like today when my blood sugar has been inexplicably skyrocketing, the last thing I need to worry about is if I can afford to check my blood very often or if my insulin has arrived yet so I'm not squeezing the last bits out of the only vial I have left. I get it. Life isn't fair. There are lots of Americans with expensive medical bills. But sometimes it just wears me down. Perhaps Sarah Palin can counsel me about what I should do if I can't afford medicine one day.