We have a great blog post this week from our fantastic guest writer, Kevin Wells of Senior Diabetic discussing symptoms to watch out for with diabetes, resources for supplies and information, info to help you navigate your medicare coverage, and what providers are best to work with to help guide you through your diabetes management.
Diabetes is a common disorder and impacts the lives of 12 million seniors. The numbers go up as time passes, with an estimated one in three Americans predicted to have diabetes by 2050 due to the aging population and the higher risk of developing diabetes that tends to come with age. Whether you are recently diagnosed or have been dealing with it for some time, you know how expensive treatments, tests, and supplies can be. Your Medicare coverage can help, but deciphering it can be like trying to put together a puzzle while blindfolded. Below are several tips for navigating your Medicare coverage to make it work for both you and your diabetes.
Be Aware of the Signs
Diabetes tends to mask itself, proven by the fact that 7.2 million people who were diagnosed with diabetes had no idea they had it. It is important that you are aware of the signs of diabetes, as they are very similar to the typical medical issues that arrive with age. One symptom to pay attention to is your blood pressure. Low blood pressure may present itself as cold shivers, nausea, and feelings of nervousness and irritability, while high blood pressure can cause sudden weight loss, fatigue, and increased urination. This inability to manage blood pressure and blood sugar can cause problems with vision and hearing. Neuropathy in the feet is a common sign as well. The bottom line: See your doctor if you notice any changes.
Know Where to Get the Best Information
Before we dive into the need to know info regarding diabetes and Medicare coverage, take a moment to consider how you will keep yourself educated beyond this article by learning to use the resources available to you. The ultimate source of factual information is Medicare.gov, but it can be difficult figuring out how to navigate the site to get the information you seek, so make sure to do your research. It will be helpful to have information on diabetes in older adults as well, so take time to peruse the American Diabetes Association site.
Coverage for Testing and Supplies
When it comes to diabetes coverage, Medicare Part B is what you should be looking at. Part B covers testing if you meet certain criteria such as high blood pressure and a history of high blood sugar, and diabetes screening if at least two criteria apply to you: 65 and older, overweight, family history of diabetes, or prior gestational diabetes. As for supplies, Part B covers blood sugar testing monitors and strips, finger prick devices and lancets, glucose control solution for calibrating monitors, and therapeutic shoes and/or inserts. In addition, Part B may cover an external insulin pump should your doctor deem it necessary.
What About Insulin and Other Meds?
In order to receive coverage for insulin and various prescriptions, you will need Medicare Part D. A Part D plan will cover any insulin not administered through a pump, diabetic supplies used to administer insulin such as syringes, needles, and insulin pens, and anti-diabetic drugs. The amount of coverage (typically 80 percent) depends on your plan, any copays or deductibles, and whether the drugs are on your plan’s formulary. However, those with diabetes who depend on Medicare for coverage will oftentimes find themselves in the Medicare coverage gap known as the donut hole, in which they have reached a certain level of drug spending and therefore have to pay a higher percentage of the cost. To keep out-of-pocket costs down, talk to your doctor about switching to a generic brand to take advantage of discounts.
The SilverSneakers Program
You may also have access to a free fitness membership known as SilverSneakers, which can help you stay active. SilverSneakers is a program available to those with certain Medicare Advantage and Medigap plans. If you have one of these plans, then you can take advantage of many facilities that offer exercise classes, workout equipment, and fitness amenities like tennis courts. Since exercising regularly can increase glucose levels and help you manage your weight, it’s a good idea to learn more about this membership and find out if your plan covers it.
More Than Medicine
Managing diabetes involves more than just taking your medicine and exercising. One of the most important things you can do to keep yourself healthy is to pay careful attention to the food you eat. A poor diet can cause – and worsen – type II diabetes. Likewise, skipping the excess sugars can help you keep control. Work with a dietitian to help you plan out your weekly menus and rethink your relationship with food.
Diabetes is a disorder millions of people live with, but it can get expensive. All the supplies, medications, and insulin quickly add up. Medicare can help with the cost. All it takes is some research and knowledge on your end and you’re heading in the right direction.
I hope you enjoy these tips from our guest blogger and would love to hear your feedback or any other tips you have found successful in managing your Diabetes and Medicare coverage!
Wishing you a week of health and wellness,
–Ricci-Lee Hotz, MS, RDN
Denver’s Dancing Dietitian
A Taste of Health, LLC
“Improving Quality of life one bite at a time”
Photo by Pixabay