Diabetes Health Type 1: I Owe What?

Diabetes supplies – somehow picking them up from the pharmacy is always exciting, never dull. Here’s the thing, we wish it were dull when it came to paying for these supplies. I’d like to yawn from the utter lack of excitement when I pick up my insulin, test strips, and syringes. I’d love to, but I don’t usually get that lucky. It’s more of an adrenaline pumping mission, one that typically ends with me crying out, “I owe what”?!

This happened recently. I stopped at the pharmacy after a long day at work. I expected one hefty enough total, but I was given another. This one was noticeably more substantial. I asked for a breakdown of prices. Out of the couple hundred dollars that I owed for one month of my supplies, I found out they were charging me $51 for two boxes of syringes. I asked what their retail price was on the syringes and was told $54. I sat there upset and puzzled. I pay a lot for health insurance. Do I truly have only a $3 discount from the uninsured? If so, why on earth do I pay for a premium health insurance plan?

The pharmacy tech had no idea why there was so little benefit, the pharmacist was also puzzled. I explained that the syringes were the one thing that I usually get for free. In fact, the free syringes had kept me from really pursuing a pump. I knew the high price of the infusion sets and, of course, the large initial cost of the pump itself.
I mentioned to the pharmacist that I’d gotten some letters from a mail order supply company, stating that I needed to use them in order to be able to receive more than one month of supplies at a time, and to receive the lowest cost possible. In fairness, they did say I’d pay higher prices if I didn’t use them instead of the neighborhood pharmacy I’d used for almost 16 years. Still, I can’t believe one prescription would go from $0 to $51, and be priced at only a few dollars below retail!

After contacting my insurance, the pharmacist confirmed that the insurance company was saying I needed to use the mail order pharmacy instead of them. She asked the insurance representative if there was any way I could fight this, and they told her they did not have that information. I felt incredibly disappointed and defeated. I really liked my pharmacy! One of the pharmacy techs even has Type 1 diabetes, like me!

I’m a hard worker. In fact, I have three jobs currently, one full-time and two part-time. I love my jobs and find them truly rewarding, but I also work hard, so we can live without being in danger of leaving diabetes supplies at the pharmacy counter, unable to afford them. I’ve been there before, and I never want that to be my reality again. I’m incredibly grateful for my jobs. Who hasn’t heard heartbreaking stories of people having to choose between their mortgage and their medications?

So here I am, at a crossroads. Do I spend the money and watch the other prescription prices go up too, or do I go with the mail order pharmacy that is being forced? I hate being strong-armed into anything. At the same time, I refuse to throw away money and pay something that isn’t fair. I can’t believe they can get away with forcing their company on people by acting this way. This company seems like the last one I want to give my hard-earned money to. I’m all about supporting companies that treat people well though at this point I feel hurt and cheated by them. Still, I know that I’ll be reluctantly contacting them to see what hoops I have to jump through to get my prescriptions at a less horrifying price. Diabetes is ridiculously expensive, and there are so many other ways I need (and want!), to spend my money.

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