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August 26, 2009 > Diabetes on a Budget: How to Make the Most of Your Healthcare Dollars

Diabetes on a Budget: How to Make the Most of Your Healthcare Dollars

Washington Hospital Seminar Offers Safe Cost-Saving Tips

Diabetes can be an expensive disease. Glucose-monitoring equipment and diabetes medications can be very costly. But there are ways you can reduce those costs without risking your health.

"In these tough times, many people with diabetes are looking for ways to save money," said Lynn Franks, RN, a certified diabetes educator at Washington Hospital. "But foregoing medications or reducing the number of times you check your blood sugar is not the answer. And it could lead to costly complications like blindness, heart attack and stroke."

She will present an upcoming seminar titled, "Diabetes on a Budget: How to Make the Most of Your Healthcare Dollars," part of Washington Hospital's free Diabetes Matters education series. The seminar is scheduled for Thursday, September 3, from 7 to 9 p.m., at the Conrad E. Anderson, M.D. Auditorium at Washington West, 2500 Mowry Avenue, in Fremont. To register, call (510) 745-6556.

"For some, it can be overwhelming trying to manage their diabetes and still have enough money left over to cover other expenses like rent or mortgage and food," Franks said. "Every week I see patients who are struggling."

She will offer helpful tips for saving money while still taking good care of your health. "The first step is to understand your health insurance and what it covers," she said. The coverage provided by private health insurers, employer-based group plans, Medicare, Medicaid and other programs varies widely.

"For example, your insurance may have a preferred glucose meter," Franks explained. "If you get just any meter instead of the preferred meter, you may end up paying much more for it. There are a lot of different offers on TV for low-cost or free meters, but some of them aren't worth it, even if they are free. The underlying message is to shop around and be wise in shopping, because some things are not a good deal."

More for Less

"I will talk about ways to get the biggest bang for your buck when it comes to medications," Franks said. "Talk to your doctor to see if generic medications will work for you because they can save you money. Some drugs you can get away with the generic brand and some you can't. Be sure your doctor knows you want generic whenever possible. Some doctors don't prescribe generic medications unless you ask."

She said there are drug cards and other programs and special offers available that can help lower the cost of medications. Some pharmacies are also much less expensive than others. There is great value in shopping around, she added.

Franks will also talk about reducing the cost of disposing of lancets, syringes and other materials considered hazardous waste. "You could be fined if you don't properly dispose of your hazardous waste," she said. "I'll talk about places you can dispose of it for free and where you can get hazardous waste containers for $2 instead of $5."

Because eating a proper diet is critical for keeping blood glucose under control, Franks will give a few tips for reducing your food bill while eating right. "I'll talk about coupons and clearance items," she said.

In addition, Franks will warn participants about some of the gimmicks that are a total waste of money. She said some of the diabetes remedies she sees advertised on late-night TV are not legitimate.

"It's so important to be safe when you look at ways to save money," she said. "Trying things on the cheap that aren't effective could be disastrous. If you don't care for your diabetes properly, complications and related hospitalizations could end up costing you much more."

Attend the Diabetes Matters seminar on September 3 to learn more about healthy ways to save money. To find out about other diabetes education classes, call (510) 745-6556.

Come to the Diabetes Support Group

Success in managing diabetes has a lot to do with receiving and giving social support. For people who suffer from diabetes, Washington Hospital's Outpatient Diabetes Program offers a support group that allows people to have in-depth conversations about what's happening in their lives and share information about dealing with diabetes in a positive and caring environment. The support group meetings are held at 8 p.m. every month immediately following the hour-long Diabetes Matters lecture which begins at 7 p.m. the first Thursday of each month. Family members and friends are also welcome. For more information about the support group or other classes and programs, call the Diabetes Services program at (510) 745-6556 or visit us on the web:

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