The Dangerous Step Diabetes Patients Are Taking to Save Money

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Those who have diabetes or have a loved one with it know: it is not a cheap disease to treat. With various medications, test strips, and other needs, costs quickly add up. Those who have diabetes may face financial strain trying to cover it all.

That being said, the results of a recently published CDC survey are not terribly surprising, but they are very concerning.

Using data collected in 2015, the CDC reported that many adults with diabetes ages 45 to 64 took less medication than prescribed in order to save money. About 18.8 percent of patients did this, compared to 9.6 percent of patients with other conditions in need of medication.

Adobe Stock/wavebreak3

Adobe Stock/wavebreak3

Patients did this in a number of different ways:

  • 16.3 percent didn’t immediately refill prescriptions when they ran out
  • 14.4 percent cut back on their dosages
  • 13.2 percent simply skipped doses

This may be due, in part, to the fact that diabetes often comes with a number of different co-occurring conditions that also need to be treated, such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol. All these medications and their costs add up and can be prohibitively expensive for many people. And when you have to choose between feeding your family and taking your medication? It’s pretty obvious which one takes precedence.

In addition, diabetes and other conditions associated with it don’t necessarily have immediate consequences if left untreated. Someone with chronic pain may be motivated to take their meds on a regular basis, but diabetes is different. It’s more about upkeep and management than it is about alleviating symptoms.

However, this can come back to bite people because the long-term effects of unmanaged diabetes can be drastic and often irreversible.

“You can’t revise nerves that are dead or damage that’s happened to the eyes,” says Evan Sission, a spokesperson for the American Association of Diabetes Educators. “The damage has already been done.”

Adobe Stock/Bill

Adobe Stock/Bill

Limbs or extremities may need to be amputated, heart issues may arise, blindness may occur, and patients may need to go on dialysis.

It’s pretty scary stuff, needless to say. But with diabetes care costing an average patient about $7,900 every single year, those in financial straits may feel like they’re stuck between a rock and a hard place. However, experts recommend that patients stick to their prescribed regimens, as preventative care and diabetes management reduces the risk of needing much pricier treatments and procedures later in life.

This situation faced by many patients highlights our need for reduced costs in healthcare. Sign our petition to encourage the Department of Health and Human Services to enact legislation that will prevent pharmaceutical companies from exploiting the sick.

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A. Stout received a Bachelor of Arts in Writing through Grand Valley State University, graduating Magna Cum Laude in 2015. In addition to being a passionate autism advocate, she is a member of various fandoms, a study abroad alumna, and an animal lover. She dreams of publishing novels and traveling all over the world someday.