The other day, it seemed like I was constantly having to use the washroom. I thought, what if I was one of those people diagnosed later in life with Type 1 diabetes? How would I handle things? How much would it cost to manage my diabetes? I didn’t even want to go there!!!
It was not a real concern. I knew that I would do what must be done if I really had to but I would not dwell on it. I did, however, begin to think about the financial aspect.
What if I did have Type 1 diabetes? I am over 25 with no private medical coverage. I would have to cover everything out of pocket. How expensive would that really be?
There is the cost of an insulin pump.
First, there would be the insulin pump. I would definitely want the best technology to help me along. Since I already know what is out there I would most likely look to purchase a sensor-augmented insulin pump.
According to a recent letter from an insulin pump company, the initial cost of such a pump would be $8240CAD. This would give me an insulin pump, a Continuous Glucose Monitor transmitter and four sensors. A box of cartridges would last me ideally for one month as would the infusion sets. Those items are $64 and $195 respectively. For a total of $8499 I would have an insulin pump with no batteries or insulin but I would have a pump.
And then there are test strips and insulin costs.
Obviously, if I have type 1 diabetes, I would need to purchase insulin for myself. That works out to approximately $70 per month if I am using an insulin pump and able to squeeze every drop of insulin from each vial.
I would also have to test by blood glucose levels 8-10 times per day. Perhaps I would test a little less because of my CGM but even at 4-8 tests per day I would require $90-$180 in strips per month. This does not include having to purchase ketone strips which are over $3 per strip for use when high or ill.
Finally there would be the batteries for the pump, the alcohol swabs, SkinTac wipes, spare syringes, lancets and tape that would also be required to keep me healthy.
Our province does have a public medical program that I would qualify. It looks at our family income and then dictates that we must cover an amount equal to 7.5% of our family income first. I would anticipate that based on their formula, I would have to spend at least $4500 on my diabetes care before they would begin to cover any of my expenses.
Sadly, based on my calculations, the items that the government would cover under their program (insulin, some test strips and syringes) would most likely not reach the magic number of over $4500. I would instead be left to cover, out of my own pocket well over $14,000 in annual expenses.
It would cost a lot to manage diabetes!
I honestly had no idea what the total of this would be. People with diabetes tell me all of the time how costly it is to keep themselves alive and healthy. They spend the equivalent of a car payment or the downpayment on their first house. They are not exaggerating. The costs of maintaining your diabetes care in the best way possible is over $14,500 by my calculations.
The chart below is the cost to manage my diabetes if I were to never get sick. It assumes that no sites will fail or fall out while hot, sweaty, or get hooked on a cupboard door and become removed. It assumes that insulin will never spoil and everything will work out as anticipated. That never happens in life or when dealing with diabetes.
A person with type one diabetes needs private insurance or a rich great uncle, to afford to maintain optimal health care. Yes, you can live and function on injections. Yes, you can live and work without a Continuous Glucose Monitor (CGM). If you want to use the best tools available to give you the very best quality of life? Well, find a job with great insurance because if you have to rely on just your wallet and the help of the provincial government and you are over 25, its not going to happen.