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February 2, 2004

Insulin, Insurance/Costs

Question from Illinois, USA:

My 9 year old son had onset of type 1 diabetes at the age of 6. He has good A1Cs in the 7s in spite of the fact that his diabetes is pretty brittle. His numbers can jump around a lot. Originally we had a diabetes team, but the endo left to go into research and so did the next one. The third charged a fortune and the fourth thought our input was irrelevant and if we don’t do exactly as we are told we should find someone else.

My question is one of prescriptions. All the information I have found says prescriptions are not needed for insulin in Illinois yet the pharmacy will not sell us Humalog without one. So we found a family doctor whose daughter has type 1 and started seeing him. However he won’t give us prescriptions for more than 3 months and says we have to do $200 worth of lab test each time. We are humble people without insurance and have a very small income. We just can’t do this. How can I get the medicines my son needs to stay alive? And if there is a therapist among you, how do I deal with the intense resentment I feel toward the medical community for having to ask their permission every 3 months to keep my child alive?


From: DTeam Staff

Many types of insulin are available without a prescription including Regular, NPH, Ultralente, Lente insulins.

Humalog, NovoLog and Lantus are available by prescription only.

I appreciate your concerns about finances. I would suggest you have a frank talk with your family physician about your financial difficulties — a good physician will be able to tailor your son’s treatment to fit with your financial abilities. You must also understand that the routine testing that is suggested for kids and teens with diabetes, although expensive, helps to assure excellent care and control. By compromising on the routine testing, you will not be receiving the care that is typically suggested for kids and teens with diabetes.

I would also suggest looking into state or federal programs for which you may qualify that can assist you with the expenses of caring for diabetes. You can talk to your regional Department of Health and Welfare to see is you may meet criteria for Medicaid or CHIPS (Children’s Health Insurance Program) insurance plans.