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Diabetes Health Center

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Saving on the Cost of Diabetes Care

Some of the best cost-cutting strategies are free.

Cost of Diabetes: Strategies for Saving Money continued...

Other examples of combination drugs are Metaglip (glipizide plus metformin) and Glucovance (glyburide plus metformin). "And there are more coming," Jellinger tells WebMD.

Considering generic drugs can cut your cost of diabetes care, sometimes significantly. Retail prices for generics are generally lower. Also, when a generic version of a drug becomes available, sometimes health plans will charge a higher co-pay for the name-brand version or may stop covering it altogether. The diabetes drugs available as generics are:

"Wherever possible, go generic," James Gavin, MD, chairman of the National Diabetes Education Program, tells WebMD.

The cost of medications isn't the only cost involved in diabetes care, however. Phillips expects to pay $80 a month for test strips when her insurance runs out. She says she has seen test strips on eBay go for much less, and she says she would be willing to give that a try. "As long as it's a sealed, unexpired box, I'd buy it."

Gavin doesn't explicitly encourage buying on eBay, but he says people should bargain hunt and comparison shop like they would for anything else.

Diabetes Costs: Paying for the Insulin Pump

Diabetes is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States and is estimated to cost the nation $132 billion annually. Given the numbers, 46 states have mandated that insurers must cover not only diabetes medicines, but also supplies and equipment.

Some states have even written provisions into their laws that require insurers to pay for insulin pumps.

Many people who take insulin would love to try using a pump, but they are very expensive, costing as much as $6,000, plus monthly supplies. To get coverage often means jumping through a lot of hoops.

"Pumps are not for everybody, and they're not an easy fix," Martin Abrahamson, MD, acting chief medical officer of the Joslin Diabetes Center at Harvard University, tells WebMD.

"At Joslin, we have a very rigorous approach towards selecting people for pumps," he says. "To qualify for a pump you have to be a highly motivated individual. You have to be checking your finger-stick sugars a minimum of four times a day, preferably closer to seven. You have to understand how to count carbohydrates and have a very, very sophisticated knowledge of nutrition, and of course know how a pump works."

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