The Cost of Diabetes

The Cost of Diabetes

Uncategorized

With over 30 million Americans diagnosed with diabetes, we all know someone living with the disease. For me, it’s my mother and a younger cousin. My mother was diagnosed with Type 2 when she was in her mid-50s. My cousin was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes when she was eight or nine. The first signs for both of my family members? Lethargy, the constant need to urinate, and extreme thirst. My mother has adjusted and manages her disease well; she’s now the grandmother of eight and doesn’t let her disease slow her down. My cousin, now a woman in her mid 20s, was a young child when she was diagnosed and had to adjust to giving herself daily blood tests, and learn to deal with the discomfort—physical and social—of wearing an external constant glucose monitor. No matter your age or the type of diabetes you might have, the diagnosis always comes with a period of adjustment, but it also comes with a significant cost.

There’s no way around it—the cost of diabetes is staggering. And it’s a problem on many fronts. The financial realities of treating diabetes and diabetes-related diseases can add up. According to the American Diabetes Association, health care costs for individuals with diabetes can run 2.3 times higher than for a person without diabetes and average nearly $17,000 in annual medical expenses. And it’s not just the individual patients impacted by the costs. Diagnosed diabetes costs America $327 billion per year—up 26% in a five-year period—including $237 billion in direct medical costs and $90 billion in reduced productivity.

With approximately 4,000 Americans being diagnosed daily with diabetes and 84 million with “prediabetes,” these costs are just going to keep going up.

The good news is that there are effective medications to help manage diabetes and reduce the risk of diabetes-related complications. There are also companies like Simplefill whose mission is to help their members afford their treatment.

Understanding The Two Types of Diabetes

Both types of diabetes are chronic diseases that affect the way a body regulates glucose or blood sugar. Glucose fuels our bodies cells but needs insulin to work. People with Type 1 diabetes don’t produce insulin. People with Type 2 diabetes either don’t make enough insulin or don’t respond to insulin as well as they should. Both types of diabetes may lead to chronically high blood sugar levels and can lead to many ancillary diabetes complications.

Understanding What Is At Risk

Hypoglycemia: Since diabetes is essentially a condition that makes it hard to regulate blood sugar levels, people with diabetes often experience hypoglycemia or low blood sugar levels. Skipping a meal or taking too much insulin can lead to hypoglycemia. Symptoms include dizziness, blurred vision, shaking, rapid heartbeat, and headache.

Ketoacidosis: Ketoacidosis is a condition that results from the body’s inability to use glucose due to lack of insulin. When cells are starved for energy, the body begins to break down fat and, when this persists, ketone bodies—potentially toxic acids that are byproducts of fat breakdown—build up in the body. Symptoms include dehydration, abdominal pain, and breathing problems.

Diabetic Kidney Disease: Chronic high blood sugar levels can damage the kidney’s ability to flush waste from the body. It can also cause protein and other substances not filtered through urine to be released. Diabetes is the leading cause of kidney disease and if kidney disease isn’t treated, it will lead for the need for dialysis. A year of dialysis can cost between $53,000 to $80,000.

Eye Problems: Since diabetes can damage the vessels in the eyes, people with diabetes might develop:

  • Cataracts: People with diabetes are 2 to 5 times more likely to develop cataracts than people without diabetes. Cataracts cause the eyes lens to cloud and can be treated Mild cataracts can be treated with sunglasses and glare-control lenses. Severe cataracts may be treated with a lens implant.­
  • Glaucoma: People with diabetes are 2 times as likely to develop glaucoma, a condition that results from pressure building up in the eye and restricting blood flow to the retina and optic nerve. Glaucoma causes gradual loss of eyesight.
  • Diabetic retinopathy: This is a catch-all phrase that describes any problems of the retina caused by diabetes. The early stages are defined by the capillaries in the back of the eye being enlarged and forming pouches. The ensuing swelling and bleeding can distort vision. In advanced forms of diabetic retinopathy, the blood vessels of the retina are so damaged that they close off and force new blood vessels to form. These new vessels are weak and bleed. This stage of retinopathy can lead to vision loss.
  • Macular Endema: Caused by diabetic retinopathy, macular endema is the result of fluid leaking into macula (the area of the eye that enables us to recognize faces and read). Left untreated, macular endema can lead to vision loss. Treated promptly, the condition can be mitigated.

Neuropathy: Chronic high blood sugar levels can damage the nerves in the body including the nerves that control automatic processes like digestion as well as nerves in the extremities (feet, hands, etc). Symptoms of neuropathy include: tingling, numbness, pain, and burning sensations.

Foot Problems: People with diabetes are more likely to have foot issues because of the nerve and blood vessel damage which leads to limited blood flow to the extremities. Small sores or breaks in the skin may turn into deep skin ulcers, which, if left untended, can grow larger and deeper. Gangrene and amputation of the foot may be necessary. In fact, each day, 295 Americans will undergo a diabetes-related amputation.

These are  the physical risks that diabetics need to be aware of. However, Americans with diabetes also need to be prepared for all of the financial hardships that can occur from a lifetime disease.

How To Prepare For Diabetes, Financially

Manage your finances well: Cut down on unnecessary expenses, especially when it comes to items that impact your health. One tip would be cutting down excess junk food and sugar. It has been revealed that consuming even two sugary drinks per week could increase your chances of developing Type 2 diabetes. By cutting down on such unhealthy dietary habits, you improve your health and also save money.

Buy health insurance: While you may not have health issues right now, it does not mean you should not add a layer of protection. Diabetes is an expensive disease. In order to stay healthy, you could need regular medicinal supplies such as insulin, oral tablets and test strips. You will also need to get periodic check-ups at the hospital. All of this can cost a lot of money. Health insurance is the best way to ensure that these expenses do not dent your savings account.

Create an emergency fund: Save, save and save more! The one guarantee in life is that you will have ups and downs. You never know when you will face a hardship and often times it comes with a price tag.

Contact companies that are built around helping patients:  Simplefill works with many diabetes patients and can help you navigate the costs of insulin and other medications needed for the diabetes related complications. Our representatives are available to help you find a low-cost plan for your diabetes medications. Apply now or call us at 1-877-386-0206 Ext. 1.

Living With A New Reality

Living With A New Reality

Uncategorized
Written by Ryan Waterfield

After the Parkinson’s Diagnosis

My family is living with a new reality and it looks something like this:

Two years ago, my 72-year-old father and I were hiking 3,000-foot mountains together. One year ago, my dad was having trouble with his balance. Instead of hiking trails, we were taking long walks out dirt roads. Today, my father can’t walk without a walker, and even when assisted, he goes no farther than from the bed to the bathroom—that’s about 15 shuffling steps if you’re counting.

My father—the CEO of a public company, a beautiful public speaker, a community leader, a hands-on father of four and grandfather of eight, the man who taught my three siblings and me how to shoot a basketball, how to play defense, and how to make a mouthwatering grilled cheese sandwich—can’t bathe himself, or dress himself, or put on his own shoes. His speech is slurred. His facial expression is flat.

The reason behind this decline? Parkinson’s Disease. But we didn’t figure that out until the disease had taken its insidious hold; we operated for too long under the impression that his problems had to do with his back, and he went in for back surgery. After the surgery, my dad’s mobility and ability to take care of himself sharply declined and he has needed 24-hour care since.

Now that we have the accurate diagnosis, we are told that, with dopamine-boosting medication such as Levodopa or Ropinirole, he might improve. We’re told that, with the right sort of physical therapy, he could gain some of his mobility and some of his independence back. But we’re just getting used to this. The diagnosis is only a few months old.

Since the diagnosis, my family and I have been in a crash course in elderly care, patient advocacy, and self-awareness. Since the diagnosis, we’ve been learning to live with a new reality, and we’ve been trying to help my father learn to live with it as well. Part of that new reality is a regimen of pills, some for pre-existing conditions, and some to deal with the dopamine deficiency, the anxiety, and the depression that often comes with Parkinson’s. Not only can being dependent on so many medications overwhelm the patient and the caretakers, it can overwhelm the wallet. SimpleFill’s prescription assistance program helps us manage the stresses of this new reality.

After the diagnosis of a neurodegenerative disease like Parkinson’s,  it’s only natural to second guess the doctors. To run back over all the signs that we—his family, his doctors, and his physical therapists—missed for months, for years. It’s only natural to want to place blame on someone including ourselves. After we got past the what-if’s, we learned to arm ourselves with knowledge; we have become frequent visitors to sites like the Michael J. Fox Foundation  and the National Parkinson’s Foundation  in an effort to become an expert on something that prior to the diagnosis we only had a passing familiarity with.

According the doctors and the websites, the progression of Parkinson’s varies from individual to individual. But there are some factors that can accelerate the disease. My father experienced all of them: psychological stress, physical traumas (like back surgery), and going under general anesthesia.

We’ve also learned that there are significant non-motor symptoms that go along with Parkinson’s even though it’s mostly known for its impact on a patient’s motor functions. These non-motor-related symptoms include depression, anxiety, sleep behavior disorders, constipation, loss of a sense of smell, and cognitive impairment. We’re learning that the depression and anxiety can be as debilitating as the motor symptoms.

The doctors we have talked with have emphasized how hard this disease is to diagnose; especially the early stages of Parkinson’s. My father’s physical therapist says that she sees many patients whose first signs of trouble presented as back issues. There are some key physical signs to watch for. If you or a loved one are experiencing any of these, please bring it to the attention of a doctor.  The earlier you can start treating Parkinson’s, the better.

  • Tremor, mainly at rest and described as pill rolling tremor in hands. Other forms of tremor are possible.
  • Slowness of movements (bradykinesia)
  • Limb rigidity
  • Gait and balance problems. Doctors have coined the term “Parkinson’s Gait” to describe the shuffling walk that many Parkinson’s patients, including my father, develop.
  • A “flat” face or slack expression
  • Slurred speech

Because my father’s symptoms generally affected one side of his body, we thought he’d had a stroke. Once he was cleared from that possibility, we didn’t ask the next question before going ahead with his back surgery. We didn’t ask what else could be causing all of these symptoms if not the back issue and if not a stroke. That was our first hard lesson in the importance in advocating for the patient and empowering the patient to advocate for himself. Trusting your doctors does not mean relinquishing all responsibility. I’ve learned that it’s important to trust your own instincts and educate yourself.

Parkinson’s by itself is not fatal. But finding a way to help my dad get back a life he recognizes is key to his survival—and ours. We’re two months into it and we’re just learning what it means to live with Parkinson’s. Working  our way to the right doctors and physical therapists. Learning the right questions to ask, the right strategies for coping.

If we can help my father feel engaged rather than isolated, relevant even though he can’t contribute in the ways he used to, and independent even though he has to ask for help, I think we’ll be on the right track. My dad and I can’t spend our time on the trail together anymore, but we’re certainly climbing another sort of mountain now.

Top 10 Medical Issues for Baby Boomers

Top 10 Medical Issues for Baby Boomers

blog Help My Meds Prescription Assistance Program

By Ryan Waterfield

Baby Boomers are a powerful demographic group

About 76 million people were born during the baby boom years—1946-1964. As more Baby Boomers are leaving the work force and enrolling in Medicare for their insurance needs; healthcare providers are focusing on the most common health concerns this generation is facing. Here’s the lowdown:

Certainly, the risk of chronic illness increases with age, but there are behavioral factors that can mitigate many of these issues. A healthy diet, physical activity, and avoiding tobacco use are three key factors in reducing the risk of chronic diseases associated with aging.

Many of these illnesses require a plethora of medications. Simplefill’s Prescription Assistance programs can help you get the right medications for the right price. There’s no need to overspend on your medications. Simplefill will make the process easy, advocate on your behalf, and give you peace of mind.

The more aware you are of the potential health risks that you face as you age (and their potential costs), the more proactive you can be about preventative care and seeking medical attention when you show signs or symptoms. So, here’s to knowing what might ail you.

1.TYPE 2 DIABETES: In a 2011 study by Centers for Disease Control (CDC) showed that people ages 65-74 were diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes 13 times more often than people 45 years or younger. Because Diabetes increases the risk of other serious health problems, it is of significant concern. Other problems include: high blood pressure, vision loss, nerve damage, foot problems, kidney disease, and cardiovascular disease.

2. HEART DISEASE: is the leading cause of death for both men and women over the age of 60. Coronary artery disease (when the arteries that deliver the blood to the heart are narrowed or blocked) is the most common type of heart disease. How do you avoid heart disease? Avoid tobacco, control your blood pressure and cholesterol, exercise and eat a low-fat, low-sodium diet. Maintaining a healthy body weight is also important.

3. CANCER: Once you hit a certain age, it seems like some type of cancer is affecting someone you know or love. And no wonder, it is the second-leading cause of death for people over 65. Cancer screenings and early detection can save lives so don’t avoid tests like colonoscopies and mammograms.

4.DEPRESSION: More than 6.5 million Americans 65 or over are affected by depression. While depression is not a typical process of aging, there are many realities about getting older that can lead to depression: changes in work status, changes in family dynamics, health concerns/struggles etc. It is important to know that it is not a sign of weakness to seek help for depression and baby boomers are a generation less likely to admit to feeling depressed than many of the generations that follow. If you are feeling down, lethargic, sad, talk to your doctors, they can help you get the treatments you need.

5.ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE: The sixth-leading cause of death in the U.S., Alzheimer’s is most common in people over 65, but people can experience symptoms in their 40s or 50s. Recent studies have shown that there is a connection between the general health of the heart and blood vessels and the health of the brain. Avoid tobacco, eat a healthy diet, and stay physically active.

6.ARTHRITIS & JOINT PAIN:  Much of the joint pain that people over 60 experience is due to the breakdown of cartilage in the joints. When the cartilage breaks down, bones rub on bones and that causes swelling, pain, and stiffness called osteoarthritis. Maintaining a healthy weight decreases the stress on joints and physical actively like walking, yoga, swimming can keep joints flexible.

7. CAREGIVER STRESS: As partners take ill with chronic diseases like cancer, Alzheimer’s, and other diseases, the spouse becomes the caretaker. Baby Boomers are also sometimes caring for their aging parents and can be susceptible to caregiver stress in that relationship. Being a caregiver will often redefine the roles in a marriage or long-time family relationship. Those suffering from chronic and incurable illnesses will see a significant change in quality of life that is recognized and often treated as part of the overall medical treatment plan for the illness; but the quality of life of caregivers also drastically changes and they are often isolated in their ability to talk about the changes. It is important for caretakers to care for themselves as well, seek treatment if depression develops, and seek a community of others dealing with the same caregiving issues.

8. EYE ISSUES:  In our 40s, many people recognize that they need a little help seeing the words on the page and they find their way to the readers in the pharmacy. But by the time you hit 65 or older, the eye problems can be much more severe. Cataracts (a clouding of the lens of the eye) affect nearly 20.5 million Americans age 40 and over and the likelihood of developing cataracts increases significantly over 60 years of age. By the age of 80, over half of all Americans are dealing with cataracts. The science and surgical techniques have improved the surgeries to make them more efficient (less time in surgery) with quicker recovery times. All of that equals more successful surgeries. Macular degeneration (a progressive disease of the eye) is the leading cause of blindness for people over 55. Annual eye exams help catch vision issues before they get too bad. With treatment, the progression of macular degeneration can be halted or slowed.

9. OBESITY: Americans in particular struggle with obesity. Diet, exercise, sleep, and healthy lifestyle choices (limiting alcohol, limiting the amount of screen time) can help people lose weight, but it takes commitment and educating oneself on risks and consequences of dietary and lifestyle choices. Doctors like to begin intervention in patients who are overweight, not yet obese. One is considered “overweight” with a body mass index (BMI) of 25 to 29.9; intervention at this stage can help prevent the development of obesity and reduce risk factors for many chronic diseases, such as diabetes, heart attack, stroke, sleep apnea, etc. A person with a BMI of 30 or greater is considered obese.

10. HEPATITIS C:  Baby boomers born between 1945 through 1965 are five times more likely than other adults to be infected with this virus. People infected with Hepatitis C may not even be aware they have it. Hep C can cause liver damage, cirrhosis, liver cancer, and even death. If you test positive for the virus, there are treatments that can cure you.

People who are at risk of getting or having hepatitis C and who should be tested include:

  • Those who currently share or have shared needles in the past.
  • Anyone who received a blood transfusion, blood product, or donor organ prior to the availability of screening in the United States in 1992.
  • People who are on kidney dialysis.
  • Anyone who received tattoos or body piercings with non-sterile instruments.
  • People infected with HIV.
  • Anyone who was ever in jail or prison.
  • Babies born to mothers infected with hepatitis C.
  • Anyone who received a blood product for clotting problems made before 1987.
  • Healthcare workers who have been accidentally stuck with a contaminated needle

 

Most of these illnesses require a number of expensive prescription medications and treatment. Simplefill is a full-service prescription assistance company dedicated to helping our members get their medicines at affordable prices. Call Simplefill today to speak with one of their friendly representatives who can discuss your situation in detail and guide you through all of your options.

 

Call Simplefill at 1.877.386.0206 or go to www.simplefill.com to start the application process online.

 

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

blog Cancer Assistance Chronic Disease Series Medication Assistance Uncategorized

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Although Breast Cancer can be found in men as well, it is the most common cancer in Women. About 1 in 8 U.S. women will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of their lifetime. Breast cancer is a disease I am familiar with. I have had 6 people in my life diagnosed with breast cancer at all stages and are all survivors and cancer free today! However, although they won that battle, watching what they had to endure was terrible.

Simplefill is made up of almost all woman and we feel passionate about doing our part in spreading the awareness of this disease.

Let’s first start with the facts.

• In the US, 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime.

• The most significant risk factors for breast cancer are being female and aging. About 95% of all breast cancers in the US occur in women 40 and older.

• Getting a mammogram can help reduce the number of deaths from breast cancer by 30 to 40% among women ages 40 to 70.

• Breast cancer deaths have been declining since 1990 thanks to early detection, better screening, increased awareness, and new treatment options. Contact Simplefill if you have been prescribed a medication you cannot afford.

• Each year it is estimated that over 220,000 women in the United States will be diagnosed with breast cancer and more than 40,000 will die.

• Breast cancer is the second leading cause of death among women.

• In the US today, there are more than 2.9 million breast cancer survivors — the largest group of all cancer survivors.

• One woman will die of breast cancer every 13 minutes in the US.

• Every 19 seconds, someone in the world is diagnosed with breast cancer.

• A man’s lifetime risk of breast cancer is about 1 in 1,000.

Breast Cancer Risk Factors

Take a minute to read through these protective steps you can take that can help keep your risk as low as possible.

Limit alcohol. The more you drink, the higher the risk. The general recommendation is 1 drink per day.

• Don’t smoke. C’mon people, you know this! Don’t smoke. If you are having a hard time beating this habit. Contact us about getting help with Chantix – a medication proven to help patients kick the habit. APPLY HERE

• Control your weight. Again, you know this! Being overweight or obese increases the risk of breast cancer and can cause many other negative health factors.

• Be physically active. Physical activity can help you maintain a healthy weight, which, in turn, helps prevent breast cancer. For most healthy adults, the Department of Health and Human Services recommends at least 150 minutes a week of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity weekly, plus strength training at least twice a week.

• Breast-feed. If you can do this, then I would recommend it. However this is a touchy subject since there is a lot of unnecessary pressure put on moms and if this is not an option, don’t stress yourself out. Like you don’t have enough on your plate already!

• Limit dose and duration of hormone therapy. Combination hormone therapy for over three years increases the risk of breast cancer. If you’re taking hormone therapy for menopausal symptoms, ask your doctor about other options. If you decide that the benefits of short-term hormone therapy outweigh the risks, use the lowest dose that works for you.

• Avoid exposure to radiation and environmental pollution. Medical-imaging methods, such as computerized tomography, use high doses of radiation. Some research indicates a link between breast cancer and radiation exposure. Reduce your exposure by having such tests only when absolutely necessary.

• Be vigilant about breast cancer detection. If you notice any changes in your breasts, such as a new lump or skin changes, consult your doctor. Also, ask your doctor when to begin mammograms and other screenings based on your personal history.

Simplefill is a full-service prescription assistance company that is dedicated to making prescribed medications affordable for our members. We have been able to help many of our patients afford their treatments.
The following is a list of medications that we can help with. If you need help with a medication that is not listed on here, Contact Us to find out if we can still help.

Drugs Approved to Prevent Breast Cancer

• Evista (Raloxifene Hydrochloride)
• Keoxifene (Raloxifene Hydrochloride)
• Nolvadex (Tamoxifen Citrate)

Drugs Approved to Treat Breast Cancer

• Abitrexate (Methorexate)
• Abraxane
• Afinitor
• Arimidex (Anastrozole)
• Aromosin
• Cabectabine
• Cytoxan (Cyclophosphamide)
• Faslodex
• Femara (Letrozole)
• Gemzar (Gemcitabine Hydrochloride)
• Herceptin (Trastuzumab)
• Ibrance (Palbociclib)
• Megestrol Acetate
• Nolvadex (Tamoxifen Citrate)
• Taxotere (Docetaxel)
• Tykerb (Lapatinib Ditosylate)
• Xeloda (Capecitabine)
• Zoladex (Gosereline Acetate)

Call Simplefill today to learn how we can help. 1-877-386-0206 Ext. 1

The Medicare Donut Hole Explained

The Medicare Donut Hole Explained

Medication Assistance

What is the Donut Hole?

The coverage gap, commonly called the “Donut Hole” is a temporary limit on what your Medicare Prescription drug plan will pay for your prescription drug costs.

While you are in the “Donut Hole”, you will pay higher costs of for your brand-name drugs. Often times these increased costs make your medications unaffordable.

If this sounds like you or someone you know, call Simplefill Prescription Assistance programs to enroll in their program during this period. 1-877-386-0206

The experts at Simplefill make understanding your Medicare Part D plan…well Simple!

There are 4 stages to your part D plan. Let’s break it down for you.

Stage 1: Deductible Phase
In this stage, you must pay a certain amount out of pocket before your prescription drug plan will kick in. This amount varies by plan.

Stage 2: Initial Coverage Phase
After you hit your deductible, you will start paying the plan’s cost share for covered medications. Once you and your prescription plan have spent $3,310.00 in 2016 for covered drugs; you’ve reached the “Donut Hole”.

Stage 3: The Donut Hole, Coverage Gap Phase
This is the stage where you start getting that sticker shock. Unless you want to wait until January 1st when your plan resets, you will now be paying 50% of the retail price of your medications. This can be very expensive and not an option for most patients, especially ones who are on fixed incomes.
This is why we urge you to contact us at 1-877-386-0206 or apply for assistance online.

Stage 4: Catastrophic Phase
You get a bit of a break in this stage since you have spent so much out of pocket for the year. During the catastrophic stage, you pay whichever amount is greater –either 5% of the covered drug cost or $2.65 for generics and $6.60 for brand name drugs.

What if I am not in the coverage gap but I still cannot afford my medications or my medication is not covered at all?
It never hurts to pick up the phone and ask. Often times we can help patients when their medication is not covered or if they have a copay is unaffordable. We always advise our patients to call us and we can find them the best way to save money on their medications. Think of the team at Simplefill as your Medication Savings Advisors!

All About Glaucoma for National Eye Exam Month

All About Glaucoma for National Eye Exam Month

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This August, we’re all about vision. In honor of National Eye Exam Month, we’ve collected the most-asked questions (and answers) about glaucoma, the most prevalent eye disease in the country. If you’re concerned that you or someone you love could have glaucoma, gather the facts below and make sure you share them with your loved ones! Continue reading

Chronic Disease Series: Multiple Sclerosis

Chronic Disease Series: Multiple Sclerosis

blog Chronic Disease Series Prescription Assistance

More than 2.3 million people across the planet are living with Multiple Sclerosis. Each month we explore a different chronic disease as part of our mission of promoting health knowledge. This month, we’re answering some of the questions you might have about this disease with the help of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. Continue reading

Screenings and Preventions for Men’s Health Month

Screenings and Preventions for Men’s Health Month

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In the 1400s, scholar Erasmus noted that “prevention is better than cure”. At Simplefill, we believe that this quote is as true today as it was then. In observance of Men’s Health Month, we’re encouraging men out there to put these words into action. Take preventative measures to nip any health issues in the bud by scheduling the following screenings. Continue reading