Even with Insurance, Many People with Diabetes Rely on Crowdfunding to Cover Care

The cost of care for diabetes can be steep, with research finding that about 40% of people with the disease struggle financially due to healthcare costs. For insulin alone, nearly 1 in 6 patients is spending at least 40% of their postsubsistence income. A new analysis finds that this has led many to use crowdfunding websites to cover the cost of their care, even if they have insurance.

Research recently published in Annals of Internal Medicine shows that the cost of treatment beyond insulin, including co-pays and indirect care, is the driver behind many GoFundMe pages. The researchers – from Duke University, the University of Washington, and Stanford University – conducted their analysis by studying a random sample of 313 active GoFundMe campaigns for single diabetes patients posted between 2010 and 2020. Among these campaigns, the median fundraising goal was $10,000, with only 14% having reached that goal.

Woman stressed out looking at bills

The team found that common cost-prohibitive items – even among those with insurance – included life-saving care, co-payments, food, and diabetic alert dogs. The dogs in particular can be difficult to afford, according to researchers, because they are not covered by insurance due to inconsistent effectiveness, and they can cost about $15,000. To address that tissue, the researchers suggest that doctors with a patient who wants to purchase a dog could redirect them to effective ways to manage diabetes, like continuous glucose monitors.

The team also says policymakers should look at their findings to see what patients are struggling with so they can develop polices to make diabetes care more affordable.

The cost-prohibitive nature of diabetes care has been found to impact patients’ ability to pay for other necessities, as well.

Couple reviews bills with concern

Dr. Cesar Caraballo-Cordovez, a researcher from Yale who co-authored another study on the topic, said, “Those that reported financial hardship from medical bills were more likely to experience high financial distress, cutting back on basic necessities – such as food and medications – and foregoing or delaying medical care due to cost.”

In Caraballo-Cordovez’s study, published in Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes, adults with diabetes were found to be 27% more likely to have trouble affording food and 30% more likely to skip or delay regular checkups due to the cost.

Woman stressed out while budgeting
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