Cost-Saving Tips for Managing Diabetes

Medically Reviewed by Sabrina Felson, MD on July 26, 2020

If you have diabetes, you already know that managing your condition comes with a hefty price tag. The cost of medicine and supplies like blood sugar meters or insulin pumps can really add up. But deals and discounts make treatment a lot more budget friendly. The key is to learn how to be a cost-cutter without putting a dent in the quality of your care.

Bargain Hunting for Meds and Supplies

Compare drugstore prices. Don't assume they're the same everywhere. Medicine costs vary a lot. You can also join your pharmacy's discount program to get coupons, special deals, and rebates on items like blood sugar meters. Ask your pharmacist about money-saving programs, too.

Shop atbig-box stores. Some offer generic diabetes medicines for just a few dollars per prescription. You can often search the full list of drugs on the store website to see if yours is available.

Check outonline pharmacies. They may have lower prices. You might be able to save even more if you buy several prescriptions at the same time. You could also get a bargain if you buy in bulk, like a 3-month supply instead of a month at a time.

Talk to your doctor. Ask if it's OK to prescribe generic medicine instead of brand-name because they aren't always as pricey. Check if they have samples they can give you, too, especially when you're trying out a new medicine. Also, your doctor may be able to suggest a drug that combines a few diabetes medicines into a single pill, since one prescription is usually cheaper than several.

Look for drug company programs. Some drugmakers offer ways to help people pay for diabetes medicines and supplies. They often have programs that give them to people who meet certain income standards.

Check your insurance. Make sure that your policy covers the medicine and equipment you need. If it doesn't, ask your doctor if there is one on your plan that's right for you. Your insurance company website should have a list of diabetes drugs you can print and bring with you to your appointment.

If you don't have insurance, search for drug discount programs online that offer lower prices for your medication. Some organizations offer free generic medicine for those who qualify.

Clinical trials. These studies check whether experimental drugs work and are safe to use. They may provide free care and supplies. Talk to your doctor to see if joining one is a good idea for you.

Eating Healthy Without Breaking the Bank

Managing your diabetes well will reduce your health care costs down the road. That's because keeping your blood sugar as close to your target as possible may prevent or delay diabetes complications like nerve damage and heart disease. These conditions are not only expensive to treat but can lower your quality of life.

To save money and eat well, plan and make meals in advance so you won't be tempted to grab something expensive and unhealthy. Make big batches that last for several meals, or freeze some for later. You can also freeze fruits and veggies if you don't plan to eat them right away.

Precooked, presliced, and individually wrapped foods cost more than those you prepare yourself. Why not make your own much cheaper snack packs?

And don't forget the tried-and-true tips for saving on your grocery bill. Clip coupons for items you know you'll use, buy store brands, and eat before you shop so your hunger doesn't drive you to make unwise purchases.

Exercise on the Cheap

You don't have to spend a fortune if you want to stay fit. Joining an expensive gym isn't the only way to get exercise. A good pair of shoes is all you need to get moving.

Being active makes you more sensitive to insulin and helps you manage your blood sugar levels. Aim for 30 minutes of exercise at least 5 days a week, and don't skip more than 2 days in a row so you'll build a habit that sticks.

You don't need to do all 30 minutes at once. You can break it up into three 10-minute chunks. If you haven't been active lately, start slow, like 5 to 10 minutes a day, and build up to half an hour. Make sure to check with your doctor before starting any new or more difficult activity or if you have foot problems.

Don't Skimp on Care

Don't try to cut costs so much that you check your blood sugar less often than you should or don't take your medicines as prescribed. Taking good care of yourself helps you avoid diabetes complications and safeguards your well-being along with your budget.

WebMD Medical Reference


SOURCES: "Diabetes, heart disease, and back pain dominate US health care spending." "10 Ways to Save Money on Diabetes Care," "How to Get Diabetes Drugs for Free."

Joslin Diabetes Center: "Money Saving Strategies for Diabetes Care Supplies," "Comprehensive Diabetes Checklist," "Eating Well on a Budget."

CDC: "Make Your Workout Work for You," "Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) regarding Assisted Blood Glucose Monitoring and Insulin Administration."

American Diabetes Association: "Aerobic exercise."

American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: "10 Ways to Save Time and Money at the Grocery Store."

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