Tips for Controlling the Costs of Living With Type 2 Diabetes

“The Boomer” is a column written for adults nearing retirement age and those already in their “golden years.” It will also promote reader interaction by posting e-mail responses and answering reader questions. E-mail your questions or topic ideas to

A diagnosis of Type 2 diabetes brings not only substantial lifestyle changes, but also added costs in treating and managing the disease. The doctor visits, medications and supplies that accompany treating diabetes quickly add up, not to mention the change in eating habits and diet. For many, the diagnosis comes later in life, when they are in retirement and on a fixed income.

Click here to read about my diagnosis and management of Type 2 diabetes

To discuss some of the costs incurred after being diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes,  I spoke with Hope Warshaw, RD, CDE, author of Real Life Guide to Diabetes and Diabetes Meal Planning Made.

Boomer: Are there programs available to show recently-diagnosed diabetics how to control the costs related to diabetes?

Warshaw: I do not know of programs specifically designed to teach people with diabetes how to control the costs of managing diabetes, however attending a diabetes education program will likely include information on this topic, especially if people ask the pertinent questions.

People with diabetes should seek out diabetes educators and/or a diabetes education program in their area. Diabetes educators most often work in diabetes education programs. They’re typically found within the campus of a hospital/medical center out-patient clinic. You’ll often find a few diabetes educators working together in a program - most commonly a nurse and dietitian. These programs are often referred to as diabetes self-management education (or training) programs, abbreviated DSMT or DSME. To find a "recognized" DSME program approved by American Diabetes Association in your area go here. You’ll come to a screen to search for programs in your area.

To find a "recognized" AADE program in your area, go here. From here go to your state.

Boomer: How does Medicare cover the cost of diabetic supplies, monitors, prescriptions, etc?

Warshaw: For people who have been diagnosed with diabetes (not prediabetes at this point), Medicare covers the cost of a glucose monitor, some strips and the related supplies. Medicare also covers initial (during the first year of diagnosis) and ongoing (annually) diabetes education provided by programs that have been recognized by either American Diabetes Association (ADA) or American Association of Diabetes Educators (AADE).

Click here for a detailed explanation of which diabetes services and supplies are covered by Medicare.

Many private health plans also cover diabetes supplies and education. People should contact their health-plan provider and ask questions. Don’t take no for an answer, these should be services they cover. As for prescriptions for diabetes medications, your coverage will depend on whether you have a prescription plan and your coverage. Medicare Part D is the prescription plan people on Medicare can purchase at an additional cost.

Boomer: How many doctors do I really need to see once I am diagnosed? Would my primary care physician be able to treat me for this chronic illness?

Warshaw: Most people with Type 2 diabetes use their primary-care providers (general doc, nurse practitioner, etc.) for their diabetes care. Make sure that your primary-care provider is up to date on diabetes care. A lot has changed over the last decade with regard to treatment goals and strategies.

Become knowledgeable about current diabetes treatments, the tests and checks your provider should be doing to keep you healthy year after year, etc. Read, read, read and talk to other people with diabetes who you feel are up on the latest treatments. In other words, make sure you give your provider a check-up on how they are caring for you. If you don’t feel that they are being proactive with your diabetes care, consider finding a new doctor (if you are able) or asking for a referral to an endocrinologist specialized in diabetes care.

Boomer: Which diets really work to avoid complications with diabetes?

Warshaw: There is not a "diet" per se that helps people avoid complications. What prevents/delays complications is getting your glucose, lipids and blood pressure under control and keeping them in the target ranges throughout the  years.

The best eating plan for people with diabetes is the same healthy eating plan recommended for everyone. Most people with Type 2 diabetes need to lose some weight, so strive to lose 10 to 20 pounds and work to keep these pounds off. Shedding these pounds can do you and your glucose, lipids and blood pressure a world of good.

Boomer: What are the best ways to control the medications I take?

Warshaw: The best way to take the fewest medications for diabetes and diabetes-related problems are to start to take care and control of your diabetes the day of diagnosis. Be aggressive and assertive about your management. Remember the key to preventing/delaying complications and to staying healthy is controlling glucose, lipids and blood pressure. Don’t avoid medications if you need them to achieve your diabetes target goals.

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