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Saving on the Cost of Diabetes Care

Some of the best cost-cutting strategies are free.

Diabetes Costs: Paying for the Insulin Pump continued...

Pfizer runs a discount program called "Pfizer Pfriends," which is open to anyone without drug coverage. GlaxoSmithKline's "Bridges to Access" program hands out free medication to people who qualify. The income cap is $25,000 a year for singles, or 250% of the federal poverty limit for families, and the enrollment process has to be handled by a third party.

You can search for these and other discounts at Partners for Prescription Assistance, www.pparx.org, a web site set up by drug companies, insurers, and patient advocacy groups to help people find discounts available to them.

"The programs are worth exploring," Cubanski tells WebMD. "They're good for people who are taking drugs that are made by these companies, who don't have any other source of drug coverage."

A drawback to these kinds of programs, she says, is that only brand-name drugs are involved. "If the potential exists for a consumer to switch from a brand name drug to a generic drug, they might not necessarily get that information," Cubanski says.

Good Control = Good Care

In a 2004 study, published in the journal Diabetes Care, University of Michigan researchers found that 11% of diabetes patients surveyed nationwide had skipped doses of their diabetes medicines because of cost. In a related study, published in the journal Medical Care, the researchers found that people with diabetes who skipped doses of their medication had worse control of their blood sugar.

If you can't pay to fill a prescription, you can't pay, but if you habitually skip doses to eke more out of it, "You're going to end up costing yourself more," Gavin says.

Not having good control of your blood sugar raises your risk for diabetes complications, and the cost of treating them can be many times over what you might spend on your medicines.

What's more, the worse your control is, the more drugs you may eventually have to take. That's because in uncontrolled type 2 diabetes, the longer it goes on, the more ability to produce insulin you may lose. "It's easier to keep control once you're in control than it is to get control when you're out of control," Gavin says.

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Reviewed on November 20, 2006

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If the level is below 70 or you are experiencing symptoms such as shaking, sweating or difficulty thinking, you will need to raise the number immediately. A quick solution is to eat a few pieces of hard candy or 1 tablespoon of sugar or honey. Recheck your numbers again in 15 minutes to see if the number has gone up. If not, repeat the steps above or call your doctor.

People who experience hypoglycemia several times in a week should call their health care provider. It's important to monitor your levels each day so you can make sure your numbers are within the range. If you are pregnant always consult with your health care provider.

Congratulations on taking steps to manage your health.

However, it's important to continue to track your numbers so that you can make lifestyle changes if needed. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

Your level is high if this reading was taken before eating. Aim for 70-130 before meals and less than 180 two hours after meals.

Even if your number is high, it's not too late for you to take control of your health and lower your blood sugar.

One of the first steps is to monitor your levels each day. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

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