Managing the Costs of Diabetes

St. Luke’s Hospital Diabetes Educator

Managing diabetes comes with costs. From healthy eating to testing supplies to medications, working toward recommended glucose levels can add up to some big financial expenses. The American Diabetes Association estimates that medical costs attributed to diabetes care equal about $7,900 per year and that medical expenses for a person with diabetes is 2.3 times higher than a person without diabetes.

Meal planning and exercise are often first choices to manage blood sugars. Choosing healthy foods in the right amounts and staying active can help by decreasing insulin resistance, promoting weight loss, decreasing your need for medications and lowering your risks for diabetes-related complications. You don’t need to hire a personal trainer or join a gym to exercise. Check your community for free or discounted exercise classes, try walking the paths at local parks or walking at a mall, look for discounted exercise equipment or check the internet for exercise videos that can be done in your home.

Healthy eating doesn’t have to be expensive. Having a meal plan and using it will help with portion control. Planning menus in advance and making a grocery list will decrease costs at the grocery store. Avoid shopping when you’re hungry. Signing up for your grocery store’s customer programs or shopping at discount grocery stores can also result in savings for you. Shopping for fresh fruits and vegetables that are in season or growing your produce is a way to save costs. Also, plan for leftovers – yesterday’s grilled chicken can be used for fajitas or a stir fry today.

Monitoring your blood sugars may be part of your diabetes management plan. It is important to know how often to check your blood sugar and how to use these results. You can reduce some of these costs by choosing a monitoring system that is preferred by your insurance company, looking for discount programs from the manufacturers or choosing a less expensive monitoring system.

Medication expenses seem to be rising each year. There are ways to help with these costs. Shop around – contact various pharmacies to find out which ones can offer the medications you need at a lower cost. Ask for generic medications and take advantage of financial assistance programs offered by many pharmaceutical companies. Enroll in a flexible spending account through your employer or take advantage of Medicare benefits. Ask your doctor about possible dose adjustments and medication options. Your doctor may also be able to provide free samples of medications. Get to know your pharmacist. Small tweaks may impact how well your medications work. Don’t be afraid to ask your pharmacist to assess your medication list for possible cost-saving suggestions. Many people don’t learn about the costs of their medications until they’re at the pharmacy register. Putting in some effort to research ways to save costs before you go to pay for medications can result in big savings for you.

If you want to learn more about minimizing the costs of managing diabetes, St. Luke’s Hospital will be hosting “Diabetes Update: Can You Afford to Have Diabetes?” on Wednesday, November 9 from 6 to 8 p.m. Activities include vendor booths, an opportunity to speak with certified diabetes educators, a cooking demonstration and a presentation led by an endocrinologist. To register for this free program, visit or for questions, call 314.542.4848. You may also schedule an appointment with a diabetes educator at St. Luke’s Hospital Nutrition Wellness and Diabetes Center by calling 314.205.6483.