The Price of Diabetes in the U.S

My biggest fear and nightmare is not being able to afford my son’s treatment, sadly the sad and horrific stories on social media keep popping up. Will we ever be able to solve this issue?

"If you’re sick in the United States, one way or another, you’ll pay.

I learned this when, as a type 1 diabetic, I lost my health insurance not once, but twice.

The first time I lost my insurance was five years ago. I was a few years into paying more than $500 per month for my own coverage that I took with me from my corporate job before I started my career as a self-employed writer. Then one day this insurance company sent me a letter saying that in two weeks they were cancelling my policy. They didn’t give a reason. I guessed it might be because, in addition to being a diabetic, I had recently undergone an experimental islet cell transplant procedure to cure diabetes, which was apparently a faux pas if you want to keep your insurance. So I called my company (not to name names, but the first word of this company rhymes with Munited, and the second rhymes with StealthCare) and said, “Hey, you can’t do this.” They said, basically, “Yeah, we can.” I called the insurance regulators in the state where I live and they said, “That is an outrage! But, yeah they can do that.”

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Insurance in the US is horrific.

I’ve had to turn down job offers because the company was too small to offer health benefits. And I still haven’t figured out the right set of questions to ask during a job interview to find out if the company’s health plan covers diabetes well or not. The responses I’ve gotten are always “Our health care is GREAT!” Except… it usually has not been.

I switched jobs in 2013. The company policy was that insurance began at 30 days from hire date. So on day 30, I started calling HR to find out where my insurance card was. At day 32 or 33, I was literally calling HR almost in tears because I didn’t have even a temporary card and I NEEDED to get insulin. We had just moved because of this new job, and there was no cash in the budget to cover insulin at out-of-pocket expenses.

Then I got the card with less than 48 hours of insulin on hand. Only to find out that my new insurance didn’t cover my insulin brand. Did I mention that I’d just moved? Hadn’t found new doctors yet. So panicked calls began to my old doctor to get prescriptions for a different insulin… SO MUCH STRESS AND PANIC.

Then last year, my insurance company (different job, different insurance company) decided in April to stop covering my brand of insulin. The end of coverage date was April 1. They mailed out the letter notifying me of this with a date of April 5 or something. I got the letter on April 10. I’d already gone to pick up the refill, only to get hit with the news that it would cost me over $1,200 to get a month’s supply. Luckily, I already had a scheduled appointment with my diabetes specialist that same week and was able to switch brands. Since she usually has 2 or 3 month’s lead time on appointments, I would’ve been in another panic had that not been on my calendar.

And my insurance is a high deductible. There’s no feeling like refilling things in January / February and that look of pure pity from the pharmacists as they run your insurance a second time and then hand you the bill for $2,000 worth of insulin, test strips, etc.

I have an extreme hatred for the entire for-profit health insurance industry in this country.