Money Saving Strategies for People with Diabetes

The following is reprinted with permission from Tiffany at

Let’s face it, most of us have probably faced the financial burden that diabetes carries. Test strips, insulin, pills, lancets, syringes, pump supplies…the list just goes on and on and on. Thousands of dollars per year from our own pockets, required to maintain our health and our lives. When I was diagnosed 15 years ago my parents paid $600 CDN for a glucometer. I was raised by a single mother who could barely afford to clothe her children and yet she scraped the bottom of the barrel to buy my insulin. I started working full time at 16 to relieve her of some of the burden. And it didn’t end there; each time I start a new job I have to make sure that I have ample supplies to last me the three- to six-month period before health benefits kick in. After college, I was sure I was going to have to return to MDI (multiple daily injections) because I couldn’t be on my mother’s insurance anymore.

We’ve all been there. Maybe you’re even there right now.

So let’s talk money saving strategies:

  1. Do not pay for a glucometer. I know, it looks so nice and new sitting on the shelf in your pharmacy, with its buttons and screens. And $60 is worth it, right? Nope. Not when you can easily get it for free. Clip coupons; diabetes magazines and even the pharmacy flyers often offer deals, such as a free meter with the purchase of 100 test strips (you would’ve bought them anyway, right?). But the easiest way to acquire a new glucometer for free is to simply ask. Contact the company that makes the device and tell them that you are interested in using their product; throw in the fact that you’ll also be using their test strips (which is the majority of their revenue) and chances are you’ll be receiving a nice new box in the mail within the next few days.
  2. Ask for samples. Lancets, needle tips, syringes, infusion sets, reservoirs, whatever. Again, contact the company, tell them that you’d like to try their product, and ask if they would be willing to send you samples. You’d be surprised at how much money you save.
  3. Visit diabetes expos. These often include trade shows; rows and rows of booths where companies offer freebies of everything from lancets, to food, to coupons. Bring a backpack and stock up.
  4. Diabetes support Web sites such as Insulin Pumpers often collect supplies from members for those in need. Join up!
  5. Buy test strips from eBay. And while you’re there, pick up some infusion sets, a medical ID bracelet and a case to keep your insulin cool. And then treat yourself to dinner with the extra money you’ve saved.
  6. Contact your local diabetes organization. These organizations often collect paraphernalia for those in need, or they can direct you toward local resources that are able to help.
  7. Purchase medications online. Online pharmacies are beneficial for many consumers and will sell medication to you for a significantly reduced cost. You may save as much as 30 percent!
  8. Talk to your Certified Diabetes Educator. He/she may be able to assist you with the procurement of injecting devices, glucometers, lancets, etc. An appeal to your physician or endo may also help you acquire the medications necessary to manage your condition. Drug companies provide physicians with thousands of dollars worth of samples every year.
  9. Buy generic drugs. Name brands on medications are the same as those on clothing; they may look better, but they don’t work any differently.
  10. Contact the drug manufacturer. Many drug companies are willing to offer assistance to those in need; all you have to do is ask.
  11. Buy multiple prescriptions at one time. Purchasing three months’ worth of drugs at once saves you three times the dispensing fee imposed by pharmacies. You also don’t have to worry about running out for months at a time!
  12. Don’t skip medications! You may think this saves you money, but in the long run it’s going to cost your health!