Numbers Game

by Leighann on November 9, 2009

You would think that you need an advanced degree in mathematics to successfully manage diabetes.

Constant counting, weighing, measuring. Estimating, calculating. Even guessing.

Blood glucose levels. Boluses. Basal rates. A1C’s.

Mealtimes and snack times. And timing, timing, timing.

But the numbers go beyond the data management that allows for good control of blood glucose levels.

The second set of numbers involves money.

It’s definitely not cheap to be diabetic. Of all things to be afflicted with I assume it’s one of the more taxing on the wallet. I know for some people it literally breaks the bank.

Some patients cut back on the number of times a day that they check their BG’s. And some don’t change their lancets often enough, if at all. But we do as we are told. (As a parent, I have to do what is best for my child, setting up good habits that will hopefully stick with her as she begins to care for herself.) We also have decent insurance.

One thing I have learned is that you have to be smart when it comes to filling prescriptions. All, I don’t know, ten prescriptions that we regularly fill.

You have to do the math.

Does your insurance company offer the option of getting a 90-day supply? Sometimes this can be a real money saver. But sometimes it is not.

For instance, when we were using the NovoPen Junior* insulin pen, the insulin cartridges came in a box of 5. Based on how much insulin she needed in a month, the insurance copay for a three month supply (two boxes) was $120.

But…if I purchased them one month at a time, I would get one box for $45. Even though we needed less than an entire box to last the month, they can’t break a box. So three boxes, purchased one month at a time would cost $135.

$135 is more than $12o, right?

No, it isn’t.

Purchasing one month at a time, I would get three boxes for $135 ($45 per box).
Purchasing a three month supply, I would get two boxes for $120 ($60 per box).

The three boxes would actually last a little more than three months, another savings.

Some companies want to help keep money in your pocket.

Not until almost a year after diagnosis did I find out about a program run by Abbott*, who makes our blood glucose meters and test strips.

Abbott’s FreeStyle Promise Program is completely free to join and has saved me so much money. When you sign up you are sent a card that you present to the pharmacist for additional savings on test strips. People always complain (rightfully so) about the price of test strips. But they are cheaper when you use the Promise card in conjunction with your own insurance.

You can save up to $50 a month on test strips for a total of $600 a year. Abbott will pay up to $50 each month after you pay $15 out-of-pocket. So if your prescription is $65 after your normal insurance pays, you pay only $15.

Yesterday I filled our test strips. Our prescription is for testing 10 times a day, which means 900 test strips for a 90 day supply.

Cost before insurance: $1,034.91 ($1.15 per strip)
Health insurance copay: $66 ($0.07 per strip)
Promise discount: $50
Our out of pocket: $16
Net cost per strip: (less than $0.02)

Through their free program, Abbott will also send you control solution, batteries, and meter upgrades.

Do the math, again.

No matter what medical condition you have, it really does pay to look into programs that might help ease the pain in the wallet and to do a little math once in a while to make sure you are still getting the biggest bang for your pharmacy buck.

Do you know of any programs that discount prescriptions or medical supplies? How do you save money on prescriptions?

*These are not advertisements nor endorsements for these products, brands, or companies. They are simply what our particular doctor has prescribed.

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