I’ve often written about the multiple complications caused by Type 1 Diabetes and the difficulties it can cause in daily life. But there is an unspoken difficulty that isn’t often discussed when referring to Diabetes. And that difficulty is the cost of Diabetes-related supplies…
Here’s the reality: in Canada, somewhere between 200,000 to 500,000 people have no medical coverage for prescription requirements. In terms of total percentage of the country’s population, that probably doesn’t seem like a lot. But half a million people is still a hell of a lot. And problematically, Diabetes supplies aren’t covered by Provincial health care so private medical insurance is required for the basics like insulin and blood testing supplies.
Now I’m lucky enough that I have medical coverage through my work. This may change if I lose my job, but that’s neither here nor there. So before I get angry and lose my peaceful composure, I’ll get back on track…
If one were to take a look at the photo I’ve taken of the supplies above, this would be a basic breakdown of how much all this stuff would cost me, if I didn’t have coverage:
The large white box that says “MiniMed Sihouette” are my insulin pump infusion sets. They come in a box of ten and are good for three days at a time. This one box costs $205.00. $205.00/month.
The skinny white box beneath it that says “Medtronic” are the insulin reservoirs. These also come in boxes of 10 and get changed every three days along with the infusion sets. $43.50/month.
Next are the yellow boxes to the left of the Medtronic boxes. These are Freestyle Libre sensors. They measure blood glucose through interstitial tissue and can be read by your cell phone. Each sensor is good for fourteen days before needing to be changed and cost $89.00 each. this means you need two of them every months. $178.00/month.
Next are the vials of Humalog. Personally, I use about 200 units of Humalog every three days. This means I use approximately 2000 units per month and each bottle contains 1000 units. Each bottle costs between $70 to $90 dollars retail, depending on where you buy it. the nice thing is insulin doesn’t require a prescription in Canada. Since I use two bottles, $180.00/month.
At the far back of my stash are Contour Next blood glucose test strips. these are still required, despite the Freestyle Libre sensors. Despite interstitial testing, you still need to test via blood prick every now and again to ensure that you’re actually on par with where you should be. Each box costs about $76.99 and has 100 strips. Since I test between 8 to 10 times a day, I require two boxes a month. $153.98/month.
The remainder are multivitamins and supplements; none of which are necessary. The two prescription vials are Ramipril and Crestor. These are preventative but generally necessary, and come in vials of 30 tablets. Ramipril is about $50.00 and Crestor is about $80.00. Therefore, these two medications come in at $120.00/month.
According to new math, the total for all my medications comes in at a whopping $880.00/month. Are you kidding me??? It costs that much to keep me alive each and every month. And that doesn’t even include the additional cost if I should happen to need more insulin or test too often and burn through my strips.
So just imagine if you happen to be a Type 1 Diabetic without medical insurance. You’d need to spend $880.00/month just to keep yourself alive. Granted, there are things you could do to reduce that total. you could skip out on the preventative medications like Crestor and Ramipril. And you don’t HAVE to be on an insulin pump.
But either way, for a minimum wage earner without medical coverage, you’re looking at rough times ahead. If you’re lucky enough to reside somewhere like Prince Edward Island, where all Diabetic supplies are Provincially covered, it’s not so bad.
This gives you a small idea of what the cost of a Diabetic life involves. It’s not all fun and medical complications. It can cost a hell of a lot to boot. ☯