In the US we are very lucky to have access to some of the best health care methods and technology in the world. I never have to worry about where my next pen of insulin will come from and I get to try out the latest tech and choose what works best for me, for the most part. But unfortunately, like most things in the US, the health care industry is all about making money. It seems insurance and health care providers and pharmaceutical companies are more concerned with profits than providing affordable treatment to patients.
Healthcare coverage is costly
While insulin and diabetes supplies are abundantly accessible in the US, it is required to have health insurance in order to afford prescriptions. Healthcare coverage for someone with a type 1 diabetes is outrageously expensive. Many people with type 1 work jobs they hate just to receive corporate health care benefits to be able to afford insulin to live. A private health care plan for someone with diabetes can cost around $500-$1000 or more each month! Even with the best health insurance plan, many people still have to pay out of pocket for diabetes supplies each month on top of their monthly payment. For those who don’t qualify for an affordable monthly payment (plenty of people with diabetes don’t) insulin and supplies must be purchased at ridiculously inflated prices (one manufacturer raised the price of their insulin 150% in five years). Here is a breakdown of costs for my monthly prescriptions if I were to pay for them without insurance:
Those who simply cannot afford health insurance face another issue. In order to purchase insulin and test strips they have to have a prescription, in order to receive a prescription they have to see a doctor, in order to see a doctor they have to have health insurance. It’s a sham that sucks patients into a vicious cycle, forcing them to cough up ridiculous amounts of money just to stay alive. Being sick is very expensive in the US.
Insurance providers make things difficult
Insurance premiums for those with pre-existing conditions such as diabetes can be flat out ridiculous and some providers simply will not cover a diabetic. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) attempted to solve this issue by offering no questions asked coverage, meaning a diabetic and non-diabetic could receive the same coverage for the same price. This may seem like a great solution but there’s a catch. In response to the ACA, many insurance providers have narrowed their networks, meaning they will only offer coverage for a limited number of doctors and hospitals. This simply will not do for someone with type 1 diabetes as we must see multiple specialists usually at different facilities including an endocrinologist, a diabetes coach, an ophthalmologist, etc. Doctors and health care professionals within these narrow networks are paid less, often causing a shortage in specialists. According to asweetlife.org, in 2013 there was one board certified endocrinologist in the US for every 33,000 people with diabetes.
Insurance companies make life difficult for diabetics in other ways too. Many companies will not cover insulin pumps or constant glucose monitors for adults or for anyone at all. Some providers will only cover certain health care manufacturers, evidence that our health is nothing but business to them. Many insurers limit the amount of supplies they will cover. I have completely run out of test strips on multiple occasions and was told by my insurance company that I had to wait until a specific date to get more. When I asked them how to prevent this from happening again they told me to check my blood sugar less often. A “health” insurance company blatantly told me to sacrifice my health in order to save them a few dollars.
People should come before profit
Those with type 1 in the US are very lucky compared to other countries, and many of the issues discussed here pale in comparison to the difficulties faced by many. We have ample access to everything we need to live a healthy, abundant life, but at a cost. Because the health care industry is profit centric, not patient centric we must pay a hefty price just to live. In all fairness, the US is a capitalistic society and health insurance companies are for profit businesses with shareholders to please. But there has to be a happy medium between profit and patient. At some point a decision needs to be made to place the quality of a human’s life over the dollar. I believe that insurance companies are to blame for the ridiculous cost of health care in this country. Imagine a world without them, all treatments and medications would cost less and be available to everyone. Health care should not be an industry, and those who are sick should not be viewed as profit centers.
Zach is a 24 year old writer, traveler and all around lover of life from Texas (USA). Diagnosed at the age of 22 Zach refuses to let diabetes slow him down. He blogs about his adventurous life with type 1 and hopes to inspire other diabetics to live life with no limits.