The majority of U.S. adults are worried about being able to afford medical care and prescription medications.1 In addition, a recent study reveals that one in seven children and working-age Americans went without needed prescription medications in 2007 due to cost concerns, up from one in 10 in 2003. Experts predict these statistics are likely to get worse in 2009, and this could present even greater hardships for those Americans with chronic conditions such as diabetes.2
“People with diabetes are especially challenged because their healthcare costs are twice as high as those of people without diabetes,” said Dr. Alan Cariski, vice president of Worldwide Medical Safety and External Affairs at LifeScan, maker of OneTouch blood glucose monitoring systems. “While it may be tempting to cut back on healthcare spending by skipping medications or reducing blood glucose testing, we’re working to remind people how important it is to follow the diabetes care regimen recommended by their healthcare professional to help safeguard their health.”
To help people with diabetes get the most value for their healthcare dollar, OneTouch has teamed with consumer advocate and syndicated columnist Jim Miller. “In a time when we’re all cutting back, it’s getting harder and harder to find significant savings from just one area,” said Miller, who is also a frequent contributor to NBC’s Today Show. “The key is to take advantage of as many opportunities as possible, which can add up to big savings over the course of a year.”
Miller and OneTouch offer the following tips, which include ways to reduce co-pays and find savings through employers and lifestyle modifications-all of which can help you maintain your physical and financial health.
If You Have Health Insurance:
- Talk to your pharmacist or insurance company to make sure you’re getting your prescriptions and testing supplies at the lowest co-pay. If not, talk to your physician about switching your prescriptions to the products with the lowest co-pays covered by your plan. For example, OneTouch® test strips are available at the lowest co-pay on more health plans than any other test strip. This means you could reduce co-pay costs by 45 percent, for an average savings of $250 a year.
- Buy prescriptions in quantity. For example, a three-month prescription may save you on dispensing fees, which can make it less expensive than buying month to month.
If You Have Inadequate Or No Insurance:
There are many free or low-cost programs, including individual pharmacy plans, that offer assistance with getting prescriptions or supplies for those who qualify. Good resources for researching these programs include: www.TogetherRxAccess.com; www.Access2wellness.com; www.pparx.org; www.rxassist.org; and www.needymeds.org.
You should also look into free or low-cost health clinics:
- Federally funded by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), there are thousands of health centers around the U.S. that provide low-cost healthcare to people based on financial need (www.findahealthcenter.hrsa.gov).
- Hill-Burton facilities: There are approximately 200 Hill-Burton healthcare facilities around the country that offer free or reduced-cost healthcare to those who can’t afford to pay (www.hrsa.gov/hillburton).
- Privately funded, non-profit, community-based clinics: These typically provide care for common illnesses and injuries to those in need, at little or no cost (www.freemedicalcamps.com).
- Visit www.freehealthscreenings.org for information to help you keep up with regular, routine health screenings. In the long run, preventive care will always be your best healthcare investment.
What To Do At Work:
If your company offers a flexible spending account, use it. It reduces your taxes by letting you pay for your out-of-pocket medical expenses and over-the-counter products with pre-tax dollars.
Find out if your employer health plan offers any special programs for individuals with chronic conditions that may provide certain needed prescriptions and products for free. For instance, United Healthcare has recently launched a diabetes plan with incentives for prevention.
What To Do On Your Own:
Some basics: If you are overweight, lose it; if you smoke, quit; if you don’t exercise, start; and if you drink, do so in moderation. Keeping healthy habits like these helps keep you healthy and saves money in the long run.
1 Harris Interactive/HealthDay Poll, March 9, 2009
2 Center for Studying Health System Change