Diabetics risking life and limb

By Courtney Lane - bio | email
Posted by Ellen Krafve - email

TYLER, TX (KLTV) - More than a million Texans are battling diabetes: an expensive disease.

"Most of the insulin we use now are anywhere from 70 to 90 dollars a bottle," said Endocrinologist Meg Reitmeyer.

Couple that with more and more East Texans losing insurance in a strained health care system.

"Even if you're paying 30 or 50 dollars for co-pays, if you're on four or five different medicines that's still 200, 300 dollars you're paying a month on co-pays," said the doctor.

Endocrinologist Meg Reitmeyer says it's forcing diabetics to live dangerously.

"I have patients who are trying to give half doses of insulin or go without eating so they don't have to take as much insulin to make it last longer," said Reitmeyer. "The problem is then they end up in the hospital sick because they aren't taking care of it. Then they get this huge hospital bill on top of everything else."

Linda Eck was diagnosed with diabetes in 1996. She's now wanting to start a church fund to help those struggling during these tough times.

"I know medications are expensive and we couldn't buy someone's whole medication but it would be enough that it would help them," Eck said.

Dr. Reitmeyer says skimping has serious consequences. Failing to keep diabetes under control can lead to amputations, vision loss, kidney problems, heart disease or even death. So it's crucial for diabetics to budget and prioritize their lifestyle. Dr. Reitmeyer says ask about switching to generics, and tell your doctor if you are financially strapped so they can work with you.

"Most of the pharmaceutical companies have patient assistance programs if you meet certain income required and your doctor or path can get you hooked up with those programs," she said.