For most people with diabetes, insurance coverage is a huge deal. Let’s face it: we ‘betics are expensive. With test strips costing over $1 each without insurance, buying an adequate month’s supply without coverage would cost you around $120 – and that’s if you test only four times a day. Add insulin at about $100 bucks a bottle, plus syringes and lancing devices, plus the meter itself and you’re well in to the hundreds a month range, just to stay alive. And never mind if you want to upgrade your technology to a pump or CGM. Without coverage, your supplies will cost almost a G for 30 days. Yikes. Thank god I have insurance, right?
Well, kinda. My company recently switched plans, and although there’s some significant coverage improvement, some of it has me worrying if I’ll be able to pay rent in January. The main issue is a $750 deductible. I’m sure that seems like a lot to most folks, but I’ll hit that (and exceed it by almost $600) on my first shipment of sensors OR pump supplies for the year. Which means no matter what, I’m going to have to fork over the full $750 in one lump sum as soon as I get that bill. On the positive side though, if I can suck it up for the initial payment, I should be well-covered until the end of the year, and there is an out-of-pocket maximum built in so I can’t go completely broke.
I am so truly blessed that I 1.) even have a job right now and 2.) have a job with great insurance that lets me take the best possible care of my diabetes. But thinking about my insurance coverage is always a reminder of the only limitation I experience with diabetes: for optimal care, I have to be employed with insurance. Which means if I decided I wanted to join the Peace Corps and kick it Cameroon for two years, I’d have to get back on a bare bones diabetes regimen, without my fancy devices to keep me in line. I’ve never felt held back by my diabetes in terms of physical abilities or the opportunity to live life to the fullest, but I’ve got to admit, the fact that I need superhero-level insurance is, well, limiting.
I remember hearing all the future plans of my peers when I was graduating from college. Some had no clue, some were heading home to wait tables and live on mom and pop’s couch for a few months while they “figured it out,” and others were packing a backpack and peacing outta the country for a few months to expand their horizons.
Me? I was interviewing with companies known for the great benefit packages. Sure I could have bought private insurance, but have you ever tried to cover someone with a pre-existing condition? It’s probably cheaper to build an insulin factory to produce your own line of medication than it is to privately insure a Type 1 diabetic. Not an option for a recent college grad. Nor was it an option for me to pay out of pocket for the bare minimum of meds I need each month. Since I test 10-15 times a day to keep my numbers in check, I’d be paying upwards of $300 for my monthly strip supply. Not easy to bankroll if your current occupation happens to be “soul searching in the Himalayas.”
However, if the most limiting factor of having diabetes is the need to be employed, then I know for sure I don’t have it so bad. And I certainly make time for life adventures even though I spend 5 days a week in a cubicle. Working away in that cubicle allows me to bankroll my road biking habit, dinner parties with my awesome friends, and my impending trip to Istanbul. And of course, to maximize my diabetes care. I can do the cube for that.