Keeping Your Treatment Up when Finances are an Issue
Having diabetes costs money. The doctor's appointments. The test strips. The
money you have to find to pay for treatment of complications. Visits to the
podiatrist, which your insurance might not cover as often as you'd like.
Medicare pays for some of the costs of diabetes care, but it may not cover
everything. They may cover the cost of one test strip per day, for example,
when you need at least two and maybe more. (Whatever you do, don't buy test
strips from questionable sources. They may be cheaper, but they often give you
the wrong readings.) It may pay for more serious, emergency procedures, but
not, for example, as many podiatrist visits as you may feel you need.
What Medicare does cover
It's important to get the most out of the diabetes care Medicare can offer
you. With a doctor's prescription, Medicare will cover:
- Diabetes self management training. This entails meeting with a diabetes
educator, who will teach you about managing your blood sugar, eating well
and exercising. If this is available to you, take the opportunity. Learning
to manage diabetes can be complicated, and diabetes educators are an invaluable
resource for you.
- Medical nutrition therapy. This is detailed help with explaining good food
choices, a review of what you eat now and what should change and how much
of the healthy foods you should eat. Again, nutritionists can give you priceless
advice about ways to manage your condition.
- Some diabetes equipment and supplies. You may not be able to get as many
as you would like, but it's important to get whatever is available to you.
You'll need a prescription for these from your doctor every six months.
Medicare Part B typically pays for the following tests and screenings for people
- A1C test
- Dilated eye exam to check for eye disease
- Glaucoma screening
- Vaccinations against flu and pneumonia
- Foot exams by a podiatrist for people who have nerve damage
Stay in close contact with your healthcare team
One thing is true, whether you have financial difficulties or not: the more
you stay in touch with your doctor and the medical system itself, the more success
you're likely have.
Be sure to ask them the following questions:
What should my A1C be, and what is it now? (For most people, the goal is to
have the A1C below 7.)
What should my blood pressure be, and what is it now?
What should my cholesterol be, and what is it now?
How often should I check my Glucose (blood sugar) levels?
What is the right way to use my meter?
What should my blood sugar level goals be-before meals, after meals and at
What glucose levels are too high or too low for me?
What should I do if the levels are too high or too low?
What Medicare benefits do I qualify for?
What do I need to do to receive those benefits?
Are there any classes that I can take to learn more about controlling my diabetes?
Encourage loved ones to get tested for diabetes
Having diabetes can be complicated, but having diabetes and not knowing it
is even worse. Experts estimate that one third of the people in this country
who have diabetes don't even know it. Encourage your loved ones to get tested.
If they have diabetes, it's important to start treatment as soon as possible
to lower the risk of serious complications, such as loss of a limb, blindness
and heart disease.
Since 1st January 2005, Medicare has covered diabetes testing for certain people
who are at risk. This can include people who have high blood pressure, high
cholesterol, obesity or a history of high blood sugar.
The National Diabetes Education Program, "The Power to Control Diabetes is in Your Hands"; The National Institute for Diabetes and Digestive Disorders.