Cost of Diabetes


Speaking of costs, I have a coworker that has a daughter with T1D (dx 17 years ago). He has been a HUGE help with information since our daughter’s diagnosis in March. One thing he said to me was “There is an old saying you can’t put a price on a life. Welcome to the secret society no one wants to be a member of. The one that puts a price on a life thanks to the cost of insulin and supplies”… Yep, now I know you can definitely put a price on a life.



I have read your post, and am very short on details. Teachers in Texas are VERY well paid, though I suppose your situation could be different if you live in a rural area. Most teachers in Texas make $65,000 or more a year, unless they’re just starting out when I’m told they might make $35,000. Honestly, I wish I had your financial problems.

In Austin, school teachers live in huge castles of houses in suburbs. The City of Austin wants to give them housing subsidies to live in these monstrosities on account of their being “moderate income”, while, truly low and moderate income people like me can’t make our rents. I truly wish I experienced the horrible injustices you’re experiencing.

You seem to be saying you pay $2000 a month in insurance premiums. Nobody pays that kind of money for insurance unless they have individual policies and don’t qualify for help on the marketplace, and I’ve heard of $12,000 a YEAR.

I carefully keep my income down so I qualify for an affordable premium under the ACA. If your high income is truly standing between you and providing medical care for your son, I’d suggest you find a lower paying job.

If you’re high income, you won’t qualify for any aid that might bring down your costs. It really sounds like your problem just might be you make too much money and you don’t want to give it up.


Really? Four years ago we paid $2400 per month for our employer-sponsored plan, & ended up paying a ridiculous amount OOP . That’s exactly why we put our daughter on an individual plan through the marketplace.

We each bear our own burdens outside diabetes, some more than others. While we may share some details of our lives, I doubt anyone here discloses all of their burdens. I’m sure there are people who know me IRL who would be shocked to know that I struggle every month just to scrape by. My husband’s & my income should be plenty to support our family comfortably. If they saw the mountain of medical debt we’re devoting most of our disposable income to, they’d be even more surprised.

Maybe we shouldn’t be so judgemental when we don’t know all of the details


I’ve been dealing with insurance issues for 37 years now, however, I always check amazon or Walmart and I noticed they have generic pen needles for 8.99 for 100. I usually use 200 needles per month give or take, and they don’t need a prescription. 60 is ridiculous, you are better off saving the copay for prescribed insulin only. Also try to exaggerate the doses to receive more insulin, and most insurances have a max test strip amount per day that you’ll have to argue for…either 6 or 10 times per day, testing on the arm doesn’t hurt as much also, and its usually close enough.


It’s as easy to Google teacher’s insurance premiums-Aetna TRS-as it is to Google their salaries. It is indeed $2,000 a month. If there are teachers living in mansions, they either have a spouse with a high income, inherited money, or some other scenario. I for one live in a mobile home, and I can assure you I am not trying to hold onto any money. Sorry to hear you are so bitter towards teachers. We don’t get into our professions to become rich, but we do have a desire to be able to survive just like you.


I have spend so much money for it.


I also reuse pen needles and lancets, and don’t use alcohol preps. I’ve been doing this for 7 or 8 years, with no problems.

If you do use alcohol preps, you might want to check out prices. Where I live, there are stores for home care equipment where rubbing alcohol costs much, much less than at a pharmacy.



I feel so sad for you. Here in the UK all this is for free. Nevertheless I have always used needles and lancets until they start to hurt never throw insulin away whatever the date. On one occasion when cleaning the car I found a pen I had lost 18 months previously we had had 30 degree summers, a minus 10 degree winter. I had been told by a nurse that a fast acting insulin went cloudy if it was beyond use and this was clear. As an experiment I used it for a day then a week and finished the pen it worked perfectly.

The insulin was Humalog but remember all the warnings about not using out of date products come from the companies who make them and in whose interest it is that you throw away when out of date.

Do not be rash and check thoroughly when you go over use by dates but my experience is that stuff still works fine.

I think buying sticks on Amazon is good advice but if you use a dozen plus a day it might be more economic to get Freestyle Libre now the FDA have extended it to 14 days. In the UK we are told breakeven point is 8 sticks a day no idea about US.

If you get Libre then you are a $200 dollar payment away from full on CGM with alarms and the ability to monitor you t1s blood from afar.

See my website for details articles “All about CGM” and “Getting Going with MiaoMiao” are the appropriate ones.

Just remember that the Libre is FDA approved for making treatment decisions the CGM add ons are not so all treatment decisions should be made using the Libre reader.

My apologies if the pricing I describe here does not work in the US but my knowledge of your appalling Health “Service”? is limited.


And I’m sorry, but I just couldn’t let this remark slide because it is the root cause of much of the injustice that I feel. As a teacher, I do not inspire kids by telling them to aim moderately high, or to only learn just enough to find a job that will allow them to carefully keep their income down. I tell them to reach for the stars. I encourage them to be all that they can be. That is the philosophy by which I motivated myself to complete college and pursue a career that I feel contributes to society. And as a society, if we have to lower our expectations of who we can be just so we can afford healthcare to keep our family alive, then we are truly lost. I might as well start telling my type 1 son now to not learn too much or maybe not even finish high school, so he can get a mediocre job some day to qualify for benefits.


@Dbryan, many of us used NPH and R as kids, if we are of a certain age. I don’t think you will find a Doc that advocates for that. And, it may be more risky for newer diabetics. But, in a pinch, we hear of people not taking insulin at all. If the options are ever reduced to cheap Walmart insulin or NO insulin at all, choose the cheap Walmart insulin. Its there. You may, in the future, find yourself in a position where it is a friday night, a prescription is expired, and you have no spare. Solution: Walmart insulin. There will probably come a time when you need it. Please remember that it is there if you need it.

As someone with a spouse who is self employed, you are pretty vulnerable to insurance woes and a lack of options. Your cost of living has just increased dramatically. The real estate market is up in my area. People are paying blood money for homes. I don’t know what its like in your area, but if you need to sell and relocate in order to care for your family, then this might not be the worst time to do it. That might not have even been an option some years ago when the market was in the tank. You have difficult obstacles ahead. Wishing you the best.


Order on line your test strips, needle tips and lancetsand possibly insulin from a Canadian on line pharmacy. The needle tips are 45 dollars Canadian, which as American dollar is 20 percent more value reduces cost even more. They’re online, look for them. Good luck.


You should apply directly through the insulin or supply manufacturer, as advised above, asap. It takes time to enroll in their programs. Have you applied for Medicaid? I know they look at gross income first but if you have multiple child dependents, you may still qualify.I


I’ve been in a similar situation as you except I was the one trying to stay alive without health insurance. I was newly divorced and my employer went out of business in the recession. Kept my COBRA as long as I could and when it ran out, I couldn’t buy insurance in Arizona that I could afford. I was provided 3 options and each was more than $4,000 per month. I wasn’t able to find a full time job and I burned through my savings pretty quickly. Every 18 days I had to come up with another $300 for Novolog, and every quarter I needed another $1,500 for pump supplies. By the end of the first year I’d lost my car. Then it was electricty or insulin? Rent or insulin? I was eventually evicted, but not before I ran out of money and ended up in the ICU in a DKA coma. A week later I took a taxi home from the hospital with a half vial of insulin and a $65,000 invoice.

I have gone on rampage after rampage with my story, here and on Facebook and everywhere. I am college-educated and I drove an A4 before the ■■■■ hit the fan. What I have gleaned is that people do not get what it means when you say you’ll be dead in three days without your insulin and you can’t afford your insulin because 1 vial costs more than your monthly food budget.


I agree. That is a very sad state. :-1:


One more thing I just thought of, there are usually about 20 units of insulin left in the quick pen when the plunger is down as far as it can go. I used to throw the pens away at that point. I learned from my daughter, who takes care of a diabetic cat, that you can take the pen needle off and stick a syringe in the end of the pen and draw out those remaining units and use them. That could be an entire day’s-worth of quick acting insulin for someone.

I now make use of every drop!


Both Novo Nordisk and Lilly have patient assistance programs that provide free insulin in certain circumstances. While not for everyone, its certainly an option for some.


There is a group where I live that travels to Mexico once a month for testing supplies and other meds. $29 for a box of 75 test strips. There may be groups in Texas that do the same. I also use cotton balls and rubbing alcohol. I have a little plastic bags with a bunch of cotton balls already moist to use. When using needles, I do as above. I will be sure to use alcohol as well.


Please inform the syringe and needle you use. And where you purchase them. I am new to this and it is a very good idea.


You can use any syringe. I prefer BD brand. The pens I use are Humalog Quik Pen. There is always unused insulin in the pen that the plunger can’t push out.


I’m out of ideas for helping your son, but here’s a site that can help with anything you need to spend for your students:

Teachers inside the US only, though.