The Increased Cost to the Poor

| Oct 1, 1998

How does the cost of increased blood glucose testing and more injections affect those with lower incomes? According to the third National Health and Nutrition Survey, "those without health insurance are twice as likely to suffer a lack of food as those who have health insurance."

Many Americans have to make a choice between paying for diabetes care and paying for food. Ongoing reductions in the federal food stamp program have affected over half of all low-income families. In a Minnesota survey called "Hunger in an Adult Patient Population," by Nelson et al., (JAMA, 1998 April 15; 279 (15): 1211-1214), it was found that 61 percent of 170 insulin-using adults reported hypoglycemic reactions, and 31 percent attributed this to the inability to afford food. If one cannot afford food, one certainly cannot afford the extra glucose strips and syringes. Furthermore, will there be a suitable mix of high-carbohydrate snacks handy to treat hypoglycemia when it occurs, or a square meal to fend off the next one?

Transferring to human insulin requires a doctor, which requires health insurance. It also involves more frequent testing, and more money for supplies. Children are especially vulnerable in such a situation. Of all poor children under 6 years of age, 21 percent without health insurance have no usual source of care.

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Categories: Blood Glucose, Diabetes, Food, Health Insurance, Insulin, Low Blood Sugar, Syringes

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