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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 with diabetes:

  • 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 bedtime?

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.
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