What You Need to Know About Access to Insulin Treatment

by Eileen Bailey Health Writer

When you are first diagnosed with diabetes, you probably have more questions than answers. For example, you might wonder if you will eventually need insulin, and if so, how do you start the process? You may need to learn about the different products that help with insulin delivery or how to get insulin when you don’t have insurance. Continue reading to find out what you need to know about insulin treatment for diabetes.


What insulin does

Your body creates insulin in your pancreas, which helps to regulate the amount of sugar in your blood. If your body doesn’t produce enough insulin, blood sugar levels are high, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK). When diabetes can’t be controlled through diet, you may need to get additional insulin through injections.

Insulin pens

Is all insulin the same?

There are more than 20 different types of insulin sold in the US, according to the American Diabetes Association. They differ in how they are made, how they work in your body and the cost. Your doctor will help you determine which is best for you.

Doctor holding a piggy bank.

Healthcare costs and diabetes

Healthcare costs for people with diabetes are much higher than for those who don’t have diabetes. According to the American Diabetes Association, people with diabetes spend about $13,700 per year, with $7,900 of that being directly attributed to diabetes care, as of 2012.

Measuring blood glucose levels.

Monitoring blood glucose levels

Diabetes is referred to as a “self-managed” condition because those with diabetes test and monitor their blood glucose levels on a daily basis, according to the American Diabetes Association. Caring for your diabetes may require specialized equipment and materials, such as blood glucose meters, test strips, or insulin pumps. You must also monitor your diet, paying special attention to how much carbohydrates and sugar you consume.

Man giving himself an insulin injection.

Does health insurance pay for insulin?

Health insurance can help defray many of the costs associated with diabetes. Contact your insurance company to find out exactly what is covered and the requirements for payment, for example, you may need a prescription from your doctor for test strips, a blood glucose meter or other supplies.

Health insurance card.

Personal health insurance

If you do not have health insurance through your employer, check on www.healthcare.gov for a plan that fits you. If you have questions regarding the individual plans, contact the insurance company directly and provide the plan name. Ask what services and supplies for diabetes are covered and what your maximum out-of-pocket expenses will be. Many people with diabetes benefit from the insurance protections these plans offer, according to the American Diabetes Association.

Diabetes supplies.

Understand your prescription coverage

Insulin, syringes, and insulin pens may be covered under the prescription coverage on your health insurance. There may be restrictions or extra costs depending on the formulary, tier, or whether your provider is in their network. Make sure you understand the differences. You may need a letter of medical necessity for some supplies to be covered.

Senior woman using a laptop.

When you don’t have health insurance

If you don’t have prescription coverage or can’t afford medication, many pharmaceutical companies have programs to provide you with medication either free or low-cost. Check with Partnership for Prescription Assistance, NeedyMeds, GoodRx, or RxAssist for assistance or price comparisons.

Insulin vials.

Ways to cut costs when using insulin

If your prescription prices for insulin are too high, talk to your doctor about using some of the older insulin formulas, as they can be less expensive than the newer insulin analogues. Using vials/syringes might also be less expensive than using an insulin pen, according to an article in Endocrine News.

Eileen Bailey
Meet Our Writer
Eileen Bailey

Eileen Bailey is an award-winning author of six books on health and parenting topics and freelance writer specializing in health topics including ADHD, Anxiety, Sexual Health, Skin Care, Psoriasis and Skin Cancer. Her wish is to provide readers with relevant and practical information on health conditions to help them make informed decisions regarding their health care.