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Not Going in the Hole

May 16, 2017

“Insulin and other diabetes medications and supplies can be costly. Here in the US, insurance status and age (as in Medicare eligibility) can impact both the cost and coverage. So today, let’s discuss how cost impacts our diabetes care. Do you have advice to share? For those outside the US, is cost a concern? Are there other factors such as accessibility or education that cause barriers to your diabetes care? (This topic was inspired by suggestions from Rick and Jen.)”

There are going to be people who read this and finish it thinking, “do you know how lucky you are?” The answer is yes; I definitely do. 

If you’re here, you’re probably familiar with the unhappy medical patients in America. You might think this post will focus on this and show my gratitude to these people, but I’m staying more personal. Call me crazy, but health just shouldn’t bankrupt a person. Here’s my story: (and also a very difficult one for me to write because I have kept this information very close to me.)

Last Spring, my car died. It was one of those days where I couldn’t deal with it. I didn’t even have a local garage. The effort to even figure out this information was overwhelming. I started with my budget. In order: Rent, Utilities, Health Insurance, Dental Insurance, Medicine, Cell Phone, Food, Transportation, Car Insurance, Food, Savings & Fun. I realized how much I had left over at the end of the month and it was scraps. How could I have a Bachelors Degree and a full time job and barely make ends meet? 

I looked at it and was wondering if there was a way to “catch up.” What part of my budget could I take some money out of? My car was safely in my driveway, so I cancelled my insurance and started taking the train to work every day. People started asking when I’d get it fixed. I told people a part was getting ordered, or that I was enjoying walking everywhere, or any sort of other response to deflect from the real reason. Even though I was not paying car insurance, I still could not catch up. I just kept going though. Eventually I’d get enough tucked away to make it work. (Even before knowing how desperate my budget was, my parents offered to pay for the repairs on my car.) 

I would order my prescriptions, and walk to the pharmacy with dread. Would my card go through?  How long could I go in between buying my insulin? How many salads did I need to eat to extend the length of my insulin? Which also sucks because produce is the most expensive part of the grocery store. I stayed incredibly busy, so that I was continually exhausted and only ever staying for one drink with my friends. I changed from drinking cider to beer. There’s a $3 difference at the bar, and even though it’s not a big deal for one week, it adds up over time. I kept that pump and Dexcom information and paperwork in my apartment, because even though I desperately wanted and needed them, could I add another cost? I started getting my groceries delivered, because the delivery fee is less than what I usually spend on impulse buys. Any time I saw change on the sidewalk, I’d pick it up. Some big life stressors that I referenced yesterday were happening too. Dealing with high insulin and insurance costs, and being incredibly stressed is not a good combination. I was doing everything I could. I researched so many of the “how to get out of debt” articles, and the amount people would save was equal to or less than what I spend on prescriptions. What else could I possibly do without telling people just how dire my finances were? 

In case you haven’t noticed, I really value being independent and not asking for help. 

My mom kept asking me why I was throwing money away on car insurance. I snapped. I finally explained that I wasn’t. They couldn’t believe that months had gone by and I hadn’t asked for help. I never fully made it into a hole, but I also couldn’t stand up. I was handed a check and off my car went to the mechanic. When I ordered the insulin pump, the paperwork was sent off with the question, “you’ll pay for this if needed, right?” It’s interesting, I now combine my style of commute and still take the train every so often. It seems to be the way to keep my transportation costs as low as possible. It’s still the area of my budget with the most wiggle room. The lack of worry has made the bank account seem much bigger.

I am lucky. I am grateful and I refill my insulin every time I’m allowed. I’m even running out of room in the fridge. The bank account has not grown, but the worry has lessened. This simple fact has made diabetes so much easier to deal with. 

Phew. It’s a hard road to know you’re qualified, with a good paying job, insurance and you STILL can’t make ends meet. Somewhere, there must be a solution. I don’t know where it is or when I’ll find it. Maybe I can find it here

2 Comments leave one →
  1. May 16, 2017 6:07 PM

    Oh Briley. I love you so much and I hate that you’ve gone through / are going through this. I wish I had something much more profound to say.

  2. Rick Phillips permalink
    May 16, 2017 9:42 PM

    I am amazed at your resilience. I recall those days. when I did not know for certain how we would make it. Thigs are better now with age and fewer expenses. But the thing is we are all just a whisker away from having an issue, no matter our current situation.

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