Cost of insulin just one hurdle for seniors with diabetes
Dolores Suvak retired from her job as a high school English teacher in the Woodland Hills School District in 2006 with a generous retirement package that included an additional 10 years of health coverage under her school employees’ plan.
Then came year 11.
Ms. Suvak, 68, is diabetic, one of an estimated 11.2 million seniors — 25.9 percent of Americans 65 or older, according to the American Diabetes Association — who have the condition that can result in serious infections as well as nerve, kidney and eye damage, and life-threatening heart disease.
For her, diabetes has meant daily testing, multiple injections and regular monitoring of her blood sugar.
It also has meant the expense of test strips, lancets, needles and life-sustaining insulin, all of which have dug deep into the fixed retirement income that she and her husband Ronald live on. The switch to Medicare came with a financial trapdoor — Medicare Part D’s prescription drug “doughnut hole” coverage gap — that she says doubled her diabetes-related costs that first year.
“It knocked the socks off of me. It just devastated me,” the Swissvale resident said last week.
Patients and providers alike have noted the rising cost of insulin, which the American Diabetes Association says nearly tripled in price between 2002 and 2013.
But that is only one of the hurdles that seniors with diabetes face. There’s also the emergence of high-deductible insurance plans, shifting more of the cost of care to patients, plus formularies that may change which insulin brands are covered at a lower cost.
“This isn’t j Continue reading