The Monthly Cost of Type 1 Diabetes Care

Last time I went to my endo, we discussed my preparations for pregnancy. After that appointment I realized just how fortunate I am to have the luxury of using an insulin pump. This little device, my sidekick, always in my way when I try to get dressed, the mess of wire that’s been burned into my brain like muscle memory when I toss and turn at night – bring the pump with you as you turn… This tiny piece of machinery, which retails for over 5k,  makes my life so much easier.  It’s a modern convenience.  After that appointment, I even got an upgraded pump a week later. Apparently, the latest settings on the Medtronic Revel are even more fine-tuned and will be beneficial once I become pregnant.

All I had to do to get this shiny new life-saving ‘gadget’ was to finish paying this year’s deductible. Still, I cringed handing over my year’s bonus to my insurance company. But then, I sat and thought for a while, the same way I’ve sat each time I’ve started to write this blog entry; a little numb, fortunate, frustrated, confused, longing to read and research and do more. Why?


There are children with type 1 diabetes in the developing world who can expect to live about a year once diagnosed. A YEAR. Why? Lack of access to insulin. Lack of funds to pay for insulin. That’s at least 50-60 years behind the world I live in. With my modern technology I feel so incredibly fortunate. It’s not fair, and it’s not right. And, then there’s America, a country where no one has any damn idea what the real cost of care, including diabetes care, is. Without health insurance, I cannot imagine being able to afford the supplies and the care I need to live as close to a normal life as possible.  As put it in his book The Healing of America: A Global Quest for Better, Cheaper, and Fairer Healthcare, by T.R. Reid, the moral decision this country has made, is that ‘despite all the rights and privileges and entitlements that Americans enjoy today, we have never decided to provide medical care for everybody who needs it.” Without access to care, and without good insurance, diabetes is a much different reality to many.

Let me prove that the monthly cost of type 1 diabetes care is too much. Take a look at my latest prescription and supply costs before insurance has covered anything and see how much a type 1 diabetic without insurance who uses a pump might pay. (Keep in mind this is my own personal treatment plan.)

For ONE month of treatment, here is an estimate of the retail costs of the supplies I use.

Mio Infusion sets for Medtronic Revel insulin pump- $151

Reservoirs for Medtronic Revel insulin pump – $38

2 vials of Humalog insulin – $359.40

200 Contour Next test strips for blood glucose monitoring – $205.98

Grand Total – $754.38

$754.38 per month. That’s $25 dollars a day.  Let’s assume I don’t have a pump though. It is a ‘luxury’ item after all. This still leaves an uninsured insulin-dependent diabetic with a monthly bill of $556.38, for a medicine needed to stay alive and healthy.

We can do better….and it starts with awareness.


Comments (5)

  1. Christi at

    Thank you for making me aware of the daily struggles and strain that diabetes has on so many people. I really couldn’t believe the cost that it entails each month!! WOW! I hope that this creates a better understanding and help for others.
    You and your hubby will be great parents. I’m excited for your journey into motherhood (it’ll be fun to read all your stories too).. I pray that you will have many blessings, peace and joy along the way.

  2. WOW, those are some staggering costs! I remember paying $8.99 for a vial of Lente back in 1980 – something is definitely broke in the U.S. healthcare system…
    Have a healthy pregnancy!! 

  3. I appreciate your calculations, but would argue there are even higher costs. These include the costs of lancets and a meter (which can be gotten for free/reused, but I digress), the costs of buying whatever one chooses to use to treat low blood sugars, and the cost of say, a pair of walking shoes, to get some exercise.
    There’s also the cost of seeing doctors for diabetes management, which can include seeing an endocrinologist, a CDE, an eye doctor, and the costs for assorted lab work, parking to see the docs, gas to get there, and so on.
    And not to pile on, but all these costs increase for pregnancy, which entails additional doctor’s visits, additional labs, more ultrasounds and scans, and so on.

  4. LeAnn Secen Gardner
    LeAnn Secen Gardner at

    Thanks for commenting. You’re absolutely right. The costs are actually much higher than I estimated, which just shows how bad our system is. An illness is already a mental and physical burden, it should not also be such a financial one.

  5. meredith at

    along these lines, let’s not forget the costs of type-1 diabetes (which i have had since 1978) complications without health insurance, which i have been without since 2004:
    some $8000 for cataract surgery in 2008
    some $3000 for two emergency room visits and two ambulance rides after passing out in the parking lot of the bus (2012) and then actually, on the bus (2013)
    and there are others, but these are the big ones so far, since i have no guarantee of getting health insurance anytime in the future, ACA notwithstanding.

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***The opinions and views expressed in this blog belong to the individual contributor and not to ASweetLife or its editors. All information contained on this blog is intended for informational purposes only. The information is not intended to be a replacement or substitute for consultation with a qualified medical professional or for professional medical advice related to diabetes or another medical condition. Please contact your physician or medical professional with any questions and concerns about your medical condition.