Is The Diabetes Online Community Becoming Just Big Business?

Ann Bartlett Health Guide
  • Diabetes is a condition that requires time, money and commitment to succeed.  The number of people living with diabetes in the U.S is 25.8 million with 3-5 million type1, that leaves the majority with type2. Add to that 42.9 Million Americans living in poverty and it's not hard to see that many people who have diabetes likely live in the middle to lower income bracket.    

    As a result, the last 5-6 years has exploded with many  online communities designed to help support patients, no matter what their income.  Some sites are in the form of non profits, some for profit, but regardless of the business set up, these communities are meant to be helpful and meaningful. Or at least that's what I thought.

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    As someone who believes I can never know enough about diabetes and as community leader for type1 for this site, I feel it is important to troll the web and check out what is happening and to share the exciting stuff that other sites are doing and work in collaboration for the better.  So I signup A LOT! A few years ago, I spotted a new site, but in order to troll the site I had to sign up. I thought no big deal, I'm willing to sign up in order to look around and I had always had a positive experience with other sites.

    The site has periodically sent emails telling me that I have friend requests and I need to check in.  They sent almost daily email newsletters until I was forced to go in and turn off all the notifications.  My visit to the site has been about 5 times total.  Yesterday, I had my socks blown off, when this diabetes site called my house to solicit diabetes discount supplies in addition to mining for eligibility for health insurance through a robo call.

    Curious, I played the game and gave them all my data, answered health insurance questions and income questions and diabetes supply questions. In the end, I clearly didn't qualify for their discount program, because they asked about other family members with conditions. 

    The task for this site is to recruit patients to programs that pay the site a percentage, or flat fee, so how likely is this to be advantageous to us, the patient? Not much.  Programs that benefit low income patients are not likely to join forces with online sites and randomly call every member on the site, of which they claim they have over a million members.  This is a large scale for profit program that invested money turning this online community into a data mining mega prospect for big cash and little discount!

    Watch yourselves, this is bound to be no bargain!

    For real help with finding discounts check these sites and blogs:


Published On: October 12, 2011