Learn why skipping diabetes medications can have costly results for patients
According to the American Diabetes Association, the average person diagnosed with diabetes spends almost $14,000 annually on medical expenses. For the 29 million people in the United States with the disease, these high medical costs are causing patients to take drastic measures, such as omitting medication or prolonging their refills. Both of these actions result in skipping diabetes medications and can have serious, long-lasting health consequences.
Recent surveys by the Center for Disease Control shed light on just how often people are opting to prolong time between refills and extend the life of their prescriptions by not taking the recommended doses. Patients in the age range of 45 to 64 years old are “frequently reducing medications to save money,” and 18 percent of older adults diagnosed with the illness decrease the number of pills they take or wait up to a month to refill a prescription in order to save money. The most common method however to cut costs was delaying a prescription, and this was carried out by 16 percent of those surveyed in the past year. Fourteen percent of those surveyed saved money by taking a lower dose of their medication, and 13 percent skipped medication doses all together.
If you have been diagnosed with diabetes and are struggling with the financial burden that can come along with managing the illness, you may have asked, “ What happens if I don’t take my metformin or other diabetes medications?” Simply put…trouble. Diabetes is considered a chronic illness, and in most cases severe effects from the disease do not happen right away after diagnoses. They often occur later down the road, say within five to ten years, which is why staying on top of one’s health is crucial.
Uncontrolled diabetes will put patients at high risk for damage to their kidneys, which could lead to dialysis, blindness, nerve damage, infections, and in some cases, amputations. Nerve damage is especially important to be aware of, as it can lead to serious issues over time. For patients with nerve damage, they may feel like their leg or foot is asleep. When this happens continuously, it is difficult to tell if the foot has been cut, damaged, burned, etc. Infection can set in quickly, leading to amputations, which over the years has resulted in diabetes being the number one cause of avoidable amputations in America.
In addition to these severe health consequences from cutting back on medication, the patient’s blood sugar levels will also feel the effect, resulting in higher levels for periods of time. This can lead to a host of health problems.
For many patients, the issue of skipping diabetes medications often revolves around the fact that diabetes typically can come along with other diseases including high cholesterol, high blood pressure and kidney issues. Combine all of these together, which can result in patients needing an average of seven + medications, and it isn’t any wonder people are struggling to pay for their prescription costs.
It’s no secret that symptoms of missed insulin and other diabetes medications can have serious consequences. And while medications for the disease may be costly, it is important to keep in mind that major health complications down the road from poorly controlled diabetes can cost even more.
Anyone currently skipping diabetes medications in order to keep costs down should speak to his or her doctor about alternative medication options that may be cheaper. You can also look for free clinics in your areas or government benefit programs that help alleviate certain costs.