I’m a nurse and see what diabetes does on a daily basis to my patients lives. I work in an ICU and have firsthand experience with the long term complications of diabetes. Many end up on dialysis, losing a limb, or losing their independence. One common thread with many of my patients is that they felt they could not afford to take care of themselves. They couldn’t afford their medications, their test strips, or their insulin. It pains to think that the elderly have to choose between eating, insulin, keeping warm, paying their electricity, or their medications.
When I see these cases I immediately think of my son Christopher and his future. He has type 1 diabetes meaning he is insulin dependent. He was diagnosed at 15 months, so since 15 months of age Christopher has had to test his blood sugar 4-6 times a day, give himself insulin shots, or put a stipe on his body for his insulin pump. He also has to worry about the carbohydrate count for anything that he puts in his mouth or eats. As parents we have the responsibility of teaching him to take on those tasks himself, so that one day he can independently take care of himself. We thought that was the hard part.
The hard part now is that we worry constantly about his future. Of course we worry about his kidney, eyes, and his heart. We hope that he continues to take care of himself the way that we have taught him, but we also have to worry that it will be a huge financial burden for him. Right now Christopher has double coverage. His father and I both have health insurance to cover Christopher’s diabetes needs. Today our insurance covers over $1,200 to $1,400 for his monthly insulin that does not include other covered cost of insulin: pump supplies, test stripes, test kits which add up to about $4,400 dollars every 3 months.
Like most parents I worry about my children’s future. I worry most about my son not having health insurance. Like most parents we’ve talked to Christopher about going to college, picking a job that he’ll enjoy, but our emphasis has and always will be that he finds something with health insurance benefits. He depends on insulin; he cannot survive without it. So we worry when we see the prices go up; we worry when healthcare is less affordable. We worry that meeting his basic insulin needs will get in the way of him having a family, buying a home, or just enjoying his life.