If you have found this blog, saying Welcome does not really seem appropriate. I know you wish you weren't surfing the internet for diabetes. I felt the same.

A big part of me wishes I were not writing about diabetes, nor did I anticipate to become so opinionated or informed on the subject, but it happened. In 2010, my son was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes.

It wasn't really part of the plan… Correction - it was not part of the plan, but it happened. It is not always easy, but I think we are all doing okay, and I hope we continue to do so.

Why the Middle East? I happen to live in Dubai. I don't think that living in the Middle East makes mine or my son's diabetic experience any more unique or challenging than it does elsewhere in the developed world.

I hope you stick around, or read something you like. Feel free to comment and join the conversation, subscribe or follow this blog by liking the Facebook page Diapoint.

Please note: This blog does not give medical advice. I am opinionated, and I share my experiences, but the first rule of diabetes is to follow up with your doctor and/or nurse educator about your care, diagnosis or medication. If you do not have a medical practitioner that is helping you find your way through this crazy world, then do not give up until you find the right one.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

The Cost Of A Chronic Illness

Day 2 of Diabetes Blog Week: The Cost of a Chronic Illness: 

Insulin and other diabetes medications and supplies can be costly.  Here in the US, insurance status and age (as in Medicare eligibility) can impact both the cost and coverage.  So today, let’s discuss how cost impacts our diabetes care.  Do you have advice to share?  For those outside the US, is cost a concern?  Are there other factors such as accessibility or education that cause barriers to your diabetes care?

Is diabetes expensive? 

You bet it is. Give Google a go at the "Cost of Diabetes" and there are numerous studies and infographics that confirm what those of us dealing with this disease already know. If you have a child with Type 1, you can take the search further and find even more alarming figures.

I live in the UAE. It is mandatory in most of the Emirates that everyone here have some kind of healthcare insurance. It is not socialized with everything covered, but most everyone has some kind of coverage depending on where they live and work, and what your plan pays for. We are fortunate that pharmaceutical prices are controlled by the government. Therefore, we do not see the overnight skyrocket increase in insulin that the US is experiencing right now.

As I mentioned, coverage can vary. We recently had to search for new healthcare coverage. I left my job last year to start a company to help diabetics and their families, so I no longer had the insurance of the corporate I used to work for. Shortly after my career change, my husband changed his job. 

We did a lot of consideration before making these changes, and insurance coverage was discussed. Diabetes is a deal breaker for us. To find a company that would cover a reasonable amount of his expenses, or offer a fair quote for my son was difficult. Why? Well due to the pre-existing condition, of course. 

The responses we received from some of the companies hurt and felt discriminatory.  One company got back to our insurance broker within minutes after receiving our applications with a $40,000 USD premium to cover my son for just one year. That was just for him only.

I do not know what an average premium is for Type 1(I searched quite a bit after that quote) but $40,000 seemed inflated. I am not even sure my son’s basic healthcare and supplies are that much in one year! It would have been much easier had they said, “Sorry, we do not wish to cover a Type1 diabetic”, but I guess that would be illegal. We eventually found something realistic, but we still pay for many supplies out of pocket. 

It is unfortunate that some insurance companies do not understand what Type 1 really is, or how it is managed. It is obvious by the tests they request and the discussions I have had with them on the phone. For example, one previous company asked for an eye exam to consider coverage of an insulin pump for my son when they had on record he just had an eye exam about five months before their request. It is redundant and not necessary.

This is the extreme. Not all insurance companies are like this, and awareness is changing. This only highlights the need of what we all know - education, education, education. 

Diabetes is not a small issue in this region. The Middle East has some of the highest incidents in the world, and this does not seem like it will change soon. 

Fortunately, there are a growing number of insurers and providers that now understand diabetes and how to treat it. When we started this journey, it took some time to find then. 

My advice for dealing with it all. Constant education and advocacy. If the first person you speak with does not understand diabetes, or if it is clear that they are requesting something medically unnecessary, speak to someone else until you find someone that is willing to listen and learn.


  1. Even though obviously there is good care in UAE its still complicated...Thanks for sharing your perspective

    1. Thank you Rachel.. Yes, we are fortunate, and my son is also fortunate in how he has good support at school to manage it. Always grateful for this.

  2. Yes, great message! Education and advocacy are so important. Thank you.

    1. Thank you Kelley! I think for so many things, education is key!

  3. Im so sorry to hear that you had a hard time gaining coverage because of your sons diabetes. But encouraging to hear that providers are becoming more understanding of diabetes.

    1. I am sure it could have been much worse.. It worked out in the end.. I expected it to be challenging, but after the 40K quote I felt awful because as a parent you do not want your child to have to deal with such things throughout their life...

  4. Wow, $40,000???? That is unbelievable. (Yet sadly, I believe it.)

    1. I know right... It hurt at first.. then after I got over the initial shock, I too was not surprised. I did call the parent company to inform them. I believe they took it seriously. They offered to call me back, but I knew I was not selecting that company, so all I asked was they look into it so it does not happen to someone else in the future.. hopefully that will help.