Being diagnosed with diabetes can be an incredibly distressing experience. But, when you’re faced with medical bills that keep on going up, then it can also become a significant strain on finances.

With 8.4 million people in the US needing insulin and prices that have tripled, it’s not surprising that many are asking why diabetic supplies are so expensive. And it’s not just insulin that a diabetic will need; they also need glucose testing strips such as OneTouch Ultra Test Strips and a whole range of other equipment. 

In this guide, we’ll consider some of the key reasons for the exorbitant pricing faced by many.

What Are the Supplies That Someone with Diabetes Needs?

There are several different supplies that people with diabetes need to manage their condition. These include:

  • Insulin
  • Glucose testing strips 
  • Lancets
  • Alcohol swabs
  • Glucose meter
  • A1C test kit

For those with private medical cover, some or all of these supplies may be covered by your insurance. However, for those who don’t have private cover, the cost of these supplies can add up quickly.

One way to save money on diabetic supplies is to buy them in bulk. This can often be much cheaper than buying them individually. However, this assumes that someone has the funds to be able to make less frequent but more expensive purchases. Another option is to look for coupons or discounts that can be used when purchasing.

Reasons For The Expense of Diabetic Supplies

There are several reasons why diabetic supplies can be expensive.

Evergreening

A term known as evergreening is often cited as the key reason for the high price of insulin in the US. This is when a drug company slightly modifies an existing drug and then gets a new patent for it. This allows them to charge more for the “new” drug.

Lack of competition

Another reason is that some drugs are only available from one manufacturer. This lack of competition can also lead to higher prices.

Recouping the cost of research and development

Developing a new drug or medical device can cost a tremendous amount of money, especially if it involves clinical trials. Not all products in development reach the market, and those that do will have costs that will often take decades to recoup.

The costs of regulation

The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) regulates all drugs and medical devices sold in the United States. This process can be costly, and these costs are often passed on to consumers in the form of higher prices.

Inelastic demand

Diabetic supplies are often seen as a “necessity” by patients and their families, which means that they are willing to pay higher costs for them. This inelastic demand can also lead to higher prices.

Does It Now Cost More To Manufacture Insulin?

It would be easy to assume that as the price has gone up, it must be due to increased production costs. However, it has been suggested that these costs have actually dropped by 20%. When you combine this with the multiple stakeholders from manufacturers through to pharmacies and health care plans, it then becomes challenging to identify who increased their profit margins off the back of diabetic patients. This then leaves the consumer in a situation where they have a complete lack of transparency and little information to be able to understand why the prices have gone up so dramatically.

Why Can’t The Price Of Insulin Be Capped?

A number of countries have already capped the price of insulin, but in the United States, this isn’t currently an option. The main reason for this is that drug companies are protected by patents. These patents give them the exclusive right to sell a particular drug for a set period of time. Once the patent expires, other companies can then start selling generic versions of the drug. This increase in competition often leads to a reduction in price. However, it can take many years for a patent to expire, so patients often have to wait a long time for cheaper alternatives to become available.

What Can Be Done to Lower The Price?

There are several ways in which the cost of diabetic supplies could be decreased.

One option is for the government to get involved and negotiate with drug companies to try to reduce insulin prices. Another possibility is for more generic versions of drugs to be made available.

It’s also important for patients to be aware of all their options and to shop around to try to get the best deal possible on their diabetic supplies. There are several assistance programs available that can help patients with the cost of their medications, so it’s worth checking to see if you’re eligible for any of these.

Finally, it’s also important to lobby for change. The high cost of diabetic supplies is an ongoing problem, and it’s one that needs to be addressed. By raising awareness and speaking out about the issue, we can put pressure on those in power to make the required changes.

What Are The Costs of Diabetes?

The costs of diabetes go beyond the price of diabetic supplies. There are several other costs associated with the condition, including:

  • The cost of doctor’s appointments and specialist care
  • The cost of medication
  • The cost of hospitalizations
  • The cost of lost productivity

What Are The Risks of Not Managing Diabetes?

If diabetes is not managed correctly, it can lead to a number of serious health complications. These include:

  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Kidney failure
  • Blindness
  • Amputations

These complications can be expensive to treat and can often lead to a significant decrease in quality of life. In some cases, they can even be fatal. This is why it’s crucial for those with diabetes to manage their condition correctly and access the supplies and medication they need.

Our Summary

It is evident that the high cost of diabetic supplies is a complex issue with no easy fix. However, by raising awareness and lobbying for change, it is possible to put pressure on those in power to make the necessary changes. In the meantime, patients can try to shop around for the best deals on their supplies and take advantage of any assistance programs that they may be eligible for.

Images by Klaus Nielsen from Pexels


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