I Cannot Afford Diabetes

I am 22. I am female. I am a college student, and I am a Type 1 Diabetic.

Once I moved out from my moms house and to college, I slid quickly down the slope to Diabetic hell. No matter how many jobs I work (my max at a time was 4) my insulin, testing materials and doctors visits are beyond my reach. Often, I have to prioritize which ones to buy (Generally, my Novolog Pens) and reuse my needles…my debt from ER visits is out of control, and coming up on graduation I feel like I will never be able to afford the care a very genuinely need to keep my sugars in control.

I feel like giving up; the medical industry has bled me dry and it feels like they are holding my life infront of me as bait; and my depression doesn’t help. How can I afford my life saving medication when peoples paychecks’ lifeblood is my wallet…

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have you applied for Medicaid? If not go to the local county assistance office and apply for medical assistance.
I did the same thing myself when I didn’t have insurance, but my state finally expanded Medicaid.
I will be losing Medicaid soon, however my fiancees employer has coverage for domestic partners.
post and let us know how you do.

i have similar problem $$$. my best solution is getting samples from your D doctor. this has saved me a lot of money, particularly w/ the insulin, which is OOP ridiculously expensive.
i have a pump for which i use Novolog ($500/vial). from my endo, insulin is free.


A couple thoughts…

  1. you should still be eligible for your parent(s) medical coverage until you are 26. That definitely warrants looking into right away.

  2. many colleges have health plans available to their students at very very low cost (like $200 / semester or so) that include basic insurance and prescription coverage. That also might be something to look into.

  3. Walmart sells regular and nph for 25 / vial and test strips $9/50. I know those not be your preferred kinds but if you literally can not afford life sustaining medication it beats the hell out of the alternative.

I hope that you are able to get on your parents coverage or on the universities health plan…


My endo gives me at least 4 bottles of insulin every visit (that’s 3 months apart). Even with insurance, I reuse the pen needles when I switch from my pump to pens. I rarely change lancets. If I can’t get enough strips thru insurance, I’d go for the much cheaper store brand strips. If you need a meter, many companies send them to you for free (just not LifeScan, which I have hated for years because of their hard-nosed ways).

Eat very low carb and your insulin requirements go down dramatically, saving money and you’ll have less bg swings requiring you to use expensive strips to keep yourself safe.

If you are in the US you can buy Novolin N and Novolin R over the counter without a prescription. They aren’t the best insulins, but they are pretty inexpensive ( I found Walmart pharmacy to be the cheapest). Also, CVS has a cheap and accurate glucose monitor and cheap strips.

Look into all your health care options. It’s difficult and time consuming, I know, but there is always something out there to ease your burden.

I know how difficult and stressful it is to live without funds or insurance with type 1. I did it for 7 years. I feel for you, but stay strong and do your best, it won’t last forever.

true it’s cheaper, but those insulins don’t cover meals well. The onset of action is way too slow. Using R would be my LAST resort. Humulin R came out in 1987 and Humalog hit the market late in 1996. That’s a long ways back in time for the modern diabetic.


A desperation move, to be sure but better than nothing if your back is truly against the wall. But @Gallantrv2427, note that this stuff is not going to behave like what you’re used to if, as it seems, you’ve been on a Basal/Bolus MDI regimen. NPH is not a basal insulin in the sense we mean that today, and R does not behave like “fast” insulins (Novolog, Humalog) as we meant that today either. You need to be prepared for eating to a much more rigid schedule both time-wise and carb-wise.


Yes, it is very much a last resort. I had to do it for 7 years because I had very little income and absolutely no insurance. It’s certainly better than dying, that’s for sure. I do certainly recommend looking into health care options and ways to find income to pay for better insulin. But Novolin N and R are there for those who need something they can afford.

Agree, R and NPH are last resorts but the OP should look into the campus health plans and their parents insurance right away-- if those things are out there and they’re suffering because they just haven’t made the right phone call it’s a real shame.

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what about a subsidized obama care plan? I know the plans are lousy, but they may be better than nothing…

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The “obamacare” plans range from lousy to absolutely spectacular… There’s a broad range, and if someone qualifies for a significant subsidy they can end up with pretty good coverage with relatively little cost out of pocket… At least in Washington state where I researched.

One hurdle with them though is there is only a few weeks of open enrollment period each year unless someone qualifies form some sort of “special enrollment” which appeared to be a complex maze of BS


the thing with ACA plans aka obamacare is the plans are often out of network with providers and facilities because the reimbursements are usually very low, so they recoup the loss by being out of network and getting the higher copays and co-insurance
I forgot about the parental coverage however depending on her situation it may not be an option.
I would check into Medicaid. Most states have expanded coverage.

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I am still under my moms insurance currently, but it’s still crazy expensive for me. Definitely not as bad as say, no having insurance, but sometimes I just feel crushed. I want to take care of myself, but I also want to be self-reliant and it’s hard when you have to do school, work and pay rent alongside having this disease. I feel like I’m never going to get on my feet.

I just ran across this from Christel Aprigliano on twitter

a pretty detailed list of programs out there to assist patients


You should have a counselor/psychologist on campus. Make an appointment as soon as you can and talk to them about your options. I say this because I was your age not so long ago, and no one taught me what my options were. No one every told me about insurance and how to get it when I couldn’t. There should be plenty of resources on campus for you.


We got Lantus for 25/month, and we get novolog for 22/month using the copay programs from the manufacturer. You can call them or go online and fill out he form. Discount is immediate. You can also get those Relion strips from Walmart that cost about $15 for 100 strips.

Sorry. For some reason this was on the front page when I logged onto the site. I didn’t realize it was old.

Hey, just because it’s old doesn’t mean your advice isn’t relevant :grinning:

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