The Monthly Cost of Type 1 Diabetes Care

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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.


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Comments (7)

  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.

  6. Mom at

    It’s amazing how much a year can escalate the prices, even, I live in a state, one of the first, to make changes in health care reform. The “Obama Care”, is supposed to help those that do not have insurance but where I live they were able to get free insulin and supplies from various locations. (Maybe that was too expensive for the government?) Now, those of us that have insurance have to pay more to help out (so they say). We pay 1200.00 in health care premiums a month and my sons insulin is 150.00 month (our portion after the deductible of 2000.. His test strips are 90.00 a month ( our pay) and then there are the lancets, etc. there bing alcohol, the snacks to cover his lows. And all the other things you really don’t pay through your healthcare. Don’t forget The ketone strips, etc. plus those extra visits to the doctor and personally, we had two times he had to go to the hospital because other parents send their kids to school with viruses and then he gets them ???? . And he is very suspectible to DKA with enters virures! My son is in elementary school but for the first nine weeks of school he missed 16 days. What about adults with type 1? Would they miss pay? Lose their job? Lose their vacation days? That’s a lot of sick time but being type 1 is an auto immune condition. Oh, and my son has celiac so there are no shortcuts in the eating department. So, basically, gluten ruins his sugars. But that’s a different disease that is a financial nightmare for us.
    So, FDA…anybody….please help….because I am about to go disconnect the TV because we can’t afford it. My kids need their 6 times more expensive gluten-free food and my son needs his insulin. And while i hardly see my husband who works very hard (harder than before to fill the shoes of the people that got laid off) he doesn’t get more money –he gets higher health premiums each year to pay for other people and to pay for 20% higher health costs each year. That means next year my sister ns insulin will be higher and the premiums will be higher and my husband’s employer told him to not expect a raise but be glad he has a job and if he gains wait or has higher cholesterol or blood pressure his premiums will increase also…up to 500 more a month. Plus spouses can increase more up to500 more a month. So Obama care wants us to work for what?

  7. Josh Hallmark at

    I have been a type 1 diabetic for 13 years now. I am 26 and have been uninsured since I was 19. The daily struggle is a real thing. I’ve had some months were I couldn’t afford my insulin, haven’t been to a endo in about 5 years, and can’t even afford my Humalog and Lantus. Since I can’t afford to go to the endo I can’t even get a prescription for the Lantus and Humalog, so I have to buy OTC Novolin 70/30 as that’s the only insulin available to me. It’s a constant battle with the fluctuations in weight (I’ve lost 15 pounds in two weeks from not being able to test and buy insulin), and a constant battle with depression because the high blood sugars cause such severe mood swings. I wish this knowledge was made more public. The doctor told me about 3 years ago that if I keep going at the pace I am that I will be dead by late 30’s. Which is hordible news for a 26 year old with a 5 year old son. I’m really stuck here and don’t know what else to do. If you have any info on anything that can help save me money on my diabetic cost you can email me a Thanks in advance guys.

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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.