The Cost of Diabetes – A Closer Look

by Ben Ong

cost of diabetes

If you are feeling overwhelmed after your diabetes diagnosis, you are not alone. There is so much to learn – how to manage symptoms, what foods to eat, how often to exercise, and what new medication you will need.

You probably feel like your whole life has been turned upside down. And this is a totally normal feeling! A diabetes diagnosis is stressful both mentally and financially. Let’s take a closer look at the true cost of diabetes and some budgeting tips to help ease your stress.

The Financial Cost of Diabetescost of diabetes

There is no way around it. Diabetes is expensive. Diabetic patients spend billions of dollars per year on medicine, supplies and doctor’s visits. They are also more likely to miss work and cost both themselves and employers’ money in lost productivity. In 2017, the average diabetic patient required $16,752 in medical care. Your personal cost will vary, depending on where you live and what type of insurance you have.

However, most patients can expect to pay, on average, at least $200 extra per month in medical expenses. Between 2015 and 2030, the IAF Diabetes Model projects that the total number of people with type 2 and type 1 diabetes will increase by 19,629,000 to 54,913,000 people, a 54% increase. 

The most expensive part of being diabetic is needing more medical care, including regular doctor’s visits. People with diabetes are also more likely to need urgent care or have to go to the emergency room.

Depending on how sick you are, you may need to stay in the hospital, which can be very expensive.

Most diabetic patients also require many different types of medication beyond insulin. You may need medication to help lower your blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar. You may also need anti-depression or anti-anxiety medication, which we will talk more about later.

Another cost of diabetes is the supplies needed to test and monitor your blood sugar. You will need a blood sugar monitor and the needles and strips to test your blood with. If you have to take insulin, you will need syringes as well.

The Physical and Mental Cost of Diabetes

Coming to terms with your diagnosis can be difficult. It takes a toll on patients both physically and mentally. Many diabetic patients report increased anxiety and depression after their diagnosis.

Seeking guidance from a licensed counselor can be very helpful in dealing with the fear and unknown of a chronic condition. You may also consider taking anti-depressants or anti-anxiety medication as well.

While these can increase your budget for diabetes, they can help you live a happier and less stressful life. Plus, you will be better equipped to take care of yourself if you do not feel sad or anxious.  

cost of diabetes

Diabetes can also make you feel tired, listless and unwell. One of the keys to managing the disease is to exercise, but that can be difficult when you are exhausted and depressed.

You also have to worry about taking care of your feet and always being on the lookout for signs of low blood sugar. You will feel different physically and it will take time to learn how your body should feel.


Budgeting Tips


1) Insurance

cost of diabetes

There are several ways you can save money as you begin your life with diabetes. The first is to learn what insurance plans your employer or partner’s employer offers.

If you are self-employed, then now is the time to get insurance or consider taking on a job that offers health insurance. If your employer offers a health spending account that allows you to use money before it is taxed, then take advantage of it!

Having money set aside specifically for medical costs will help you keep better track of your spending. If you qualify for government healthcare or assistance, then have a friend help you fill out the paperwork so you can get as much of a cost break as possible. 


2) Food Shop

cost of diabetes

When shopping for food, remember that healthy food is best.

You may save money by eating cheaper foods, like fast food or pre-packaged foods, but they could cause more expensive health problems down the line.  

Try making a batch of meals on the weekend that you can freeze and use later, so nothing goes to waste.


3) Medication Supply

cost of diabetes

When your doctor prescribes your medication, always ask for the generic version if it is available.

You can also check to see if you can get a discount by asking for 60 or 90 day supplies of medicine, instead of the traditional 30-day supply.



Diabetes is a serious disease that can take its toll on you. However, it can be managed through planning and patience. Take a deep breath and begin by making a list of your new expenses and how you can fit them into your budget. You may need to make some cuts in your budget initially, but as you get used to your new lifestyle, you should only have smaller recurring costs.

Taking good care of yourself, both mentally and physically is very important. Rest when you can and exercise as much as possible. Choose healthy foods and closely monitor your blood sugar. Keeping a close eye on your symptoms will help you save money and stress in the long run.