Need Help With U.S. Diabetes Supplies and Medications? UPDATED!

 

159942_2191

This is a current list of currently available programs, co-pay cards, organizations and manufacturers that may help, and the requirements to participate in the programs.

Included in this update is a large expansion in the co-pay card program, which is helpful for individuals with insurance (but high co-pays!). You can now scroll quickly through this list, as medications are now bolded in RED.  It is also separated into insulin/injectable meds and oral meds to help make your medications easier to find. 

These links are up to date as of 23 August 2015. (If you have links or resources, please list them in the comment section and if they’re legitimate, I’ll add them.)

Why did I create this?

Every other “diabetes financial assistance/resource” page that I would visit would give you a link to supposed help – but you had to dig deep to find out if there were exclusions or restrictions. Some of the resource pages had links that no longer exist. Others had a single page that said: “We no longer offer a program.”

This page will give you the restrictions/exclusions I’ve found and the contact information and site to get yourself started if you qualify. (And in some cases, all of us will qualify!)

Hope this helps you.

Share this information – no one should be “sick” with diabetes from a lack of medication or supplies – let’s help each other by getting the word out. 


Got Twitter? Help spread the word easily by clicking here:

Tweet: Need help with U.S. #diabetes supplies and meds? Click here: http://ctt.ec/q2s85+ Includes co-pay help for insulin, oral meds.


 

Insulin, Injectable Diabetes Medication, & Needles

Astra-Zeneca Prescription Savings Program – NO insurance

If you take BYDUREON, BYETTA, or SYMLIN, you may be eligible for free medications mailed to your home or provider. Requirements include:

  • You must be resident of the US, or have a Work Visa or Green Card.
  • You aren’t currently receiving prescription drug coverage under a private insurance or government program, or receiving any other assistance to help pay for medicine.
  • Your annual income* should be at or below:
    • $35,000 for a single person
    • $48,000 for a family of two
    • $60,000 for a family of three
    • $70,000 for a family of four
    • $80,000 for a family of five
      • *Income limits may be higher in Alaska and Hawaii

If you are a Medicare Part D Beneficiary:

  • You aren’t eligible for or enrolled in Limited Income Subsidy (LIS) for Medicare Part D

If you have experienced a life changing event in the past year, and your financial documentation does not accurately reflect your current situation, we encourage you to apply for the AZ&Me Prescription Savings Program. You may still meet the criteria to enroll. Some examples of this type of event would be:

  • Loss of employment
  • Change in income
  • Loss of, or change in, prescription drug coverage
  • Marriage
  • Change in household number

For assistance and additional information, you can call  1-800-AZandMe (292-6363).

CO-PAY Savings Card –  Private/Commercial Insurance Coverage Help

There is also a MySavingsRX Card for BYDUREON, BYETTA, or SYMLINThe cost would be reduced to $25 per month.

You may be eligible for the Savings Card if:

  • You are insured by commercial insurance and your insurance does not cover the full cost of your prescription, or you are not insured and are responsible for the cost of your prescriptions.
  • Patients who are enrolled in a state or federally funded prescription insurance program are not eligible for this offer. This includes patients enrolled in Medicare Part D, Medicaid, Medigap, Veterans Affairs (VA), Department of Defense (DOD) programs or TriCare, and patients who are Medicare eligible and enrolled in an employer-sponsored group waiver health plan or government-subsidized prescription drug benefit program for retirees.
  • You are enrolled in a state or federally funded prescription insurance program, you may not use this Savings Card even if you elect to be processed as an uninsured (cash-paying) patient.
  • You are 18 years of age or older.
  • This offer is not insurance and is restricted to residents of the United States and Puerto Rico.

Eli Lilly – Lilly Cares – NO insurance

Eli Lilly offers Glucagon, Trulicity, Humalog, Humalin, and Humalog Mix under the Lilly Cares program.

  • You must be a U.S. resident. (This program is not available in Puerto Rico or the US Virgin Islands.)
  • You must not have prescription coverage.
  • You must meet the household guidelines:

Household Income Guidelines:

  • The total number of people in the household includes yourself and each of your dependents.
  • Total yearly income includes incomes from all earners in your household before taxes and deductions.
  • To qualify, your total yearly income cannot exceed the values listed below.
Number of People in Your Home 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
Total Yearly Income
(48 Contiguous States and DC)
$35,310 $47,790 $60,270 $72,750 $85,230 $97,710 $110,190 $122,670
Alaska $44,160 $59,760 $75,360 $90,960 $106,560 $122,160 $137,760 $153,360
Hawaii $40,650 $54,990 $69,330 $83,670 $98,010 $112,350 $126,690 $141,030

For additional information about Lilly Cares, call at 1-800-545-6962.

*A 120-day supply of medicine will be shipped to your health care provider’s office. Prescription refills will be available during your 1-year enrollment period.

CO-PAY Savings Card –  Private/Commercial Insurance Coverage Help

There is a Prescription Copay Card for the Humalog U-200 Kwikpen, but you must ask your physician for it. You must have commercial insurance through your employer or independent insurance that is not a government-sponsored plan (for example, Medicaid or Medicare).  If eligible, you’ll pay as little as $25 for your prescription.

Trulicity has a savings card, giving you this medication for $25 per month for up to two years. You must meet the following criteria:

  • 18 or older and currently living in the United States or Puerto Rico.
  • Have commercial health insurance (insurance other than Medicare, Medicaid, etc)
  • Not have your prescription paid in part or full by any government funded program, including but not limited to, Medicare, Medicare Part D, Medicaid, Medigap, VA, CHAMPUS, DOD, TRICARE® or any State Patient or Pharmaceutical Assistance Program.
  • This offer is invalid for patients without commercial insurance coverage.

Eli Lilly Lilly MedicareAnswers

For those individuals on Medicare, you have an option!

Eli Lilly offers Glucagon, Trulicity,  Humalog, Humalin, and Humalog Mix under the Eli Lilly LillyMedicareAnswers program.

  • You must be enrolled in a Medicare Part D prescription plan.
  • You must be denied or ineligible for Low Income Subsidy.
  • You must be a United States resident.(This program includes Puerto Rico.)
  • You must meet the household guidelines:

Household Income Guidelines:

  • The total number of people in the household includes yourself and each of your dependents.
  • Total yearly income includes incomes from all earners in your household before taxes and deductions.
  • To qualify, your total yearly income cannot exceed the values listed below.
Number of People in Your Home 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
Total Yearly Income
(48 Contiguous States and DC)
$35,310 $47,790 $60,270 $72,750 $85,230 $97,710 $110,190 $122,670
Alaska $44,160 $59,760 $75,360 $90,960 $106,560 $122,160 $137,760 $153,360
Hawaii $40,650 $54,990 $69,330 $83,670 $98,010 $112,350 $126,690 $141,030

*A 90-day supply of medicine will be shipped to your home via mail order pharmacy. Prescription refills will be available during your 1-year enrollment period.

NovoNordisk – NO insurance

Novo Nordisk Patient Assistance Program (PAP) provides free medicine (to those who qualify), including: Levemir, Novolog, Novolog Mix 70/30, Novolin, GlucaGen Hypo Kit, Victoza, and disposable needles for FlexPens and Victoza. (Please be aware that all insulin is vial only; no FlexPens.)

The application for Novo Nordisk’s medication assistance program is downloadable here. 

  • There are several restrictions to the program. Please download the application and review.
  • You must be a U.S. citizen.
  • You must have a household income less than 200% of federal poverty level. 200% FPL* $47,700
  • You cannot have private prescription coverage,VA prescription benefits, any federal, state, or local program such as Medicare or Medicaid. Exceptions include patients who have entered the coverage gap (donut hole) in Medicare Part D and patients who have applied for and been denied Medicare Extra Help/Low Income Subsidy (LIS) and are Medicare eligible.

You can get more information by calling the Novo Nordisk Patient Assistance Program toll free at 866-310-7549.

If approved, a free 120-day supply of medicine will be sent to the prescribing health care providers’ office to be picked up at the patient’s convenience. Novo Nordisk will automatically contact the health care provider 90 days later to approve the medication reorder.

CO-PAY Savings Card –  Private/Commercial Insurance Coverage Help

There is an Instant Savings Card for Victoza, which brings the cost to $25 per monthly prescription for up to 2 years.

The Instant Savings Card is not valid for prescriptions purchased under Medicaid, Medicare, or similar federal, state, or government-funded benefit programs. This includes Medicare, Medicaid, Medigap, VA, DOD, and TRICARE, as well as any other state or federal employee benefit programs.

There is an Instant Savings Card for Levemir. If eligible, you will pay no more than $25 for your Levemir® prescription and each refill for up to 2 yearsa with a Novo Nordisk Instant Savings Card. The savings card can be used like a coupon when you pick up your Levemir® prescription from the pharmacy.

In addition, pay no more than $20 (maximum savings up to $100 per fill) for the next prescribed product and each refill for up to 2 years. Offer available for a 30-day supply of Victoza® (liraglutide [rDNA origin] injection), Levemir® (insulin detemir [rDNA origin] injection), NovoLog® (insulin aspart [rDNA origin] injection), and NovoLog® Mix 70/30 (70% insulin aspart protamine suspension and 30% insulin aspart, [rDNA origin] injection). Offer is valid for a maximum of $100 off your co-pay for each 30-day supply of Victoza®, Levemir®, NovoLog®, and NovoLog® Mix 70/30. Offer is valid for a maximum of 24 refills per product over 2 years. Novo Nordisk reserves the right to modify or cancel this program at any time.

There is also a  Novo Nordisk prescription savings card for other products: Offer available for a 30-day supply of Levemir® FlexPen, NovoLog® Mix 70/30 FlexPen, and NovoLog. Like the other prescription savings cards, it has restrictions, but these also give $25 per month prescription savings.

Sanofi Patient Connection Program– NO insurance

Provides Apidra, Lantus, and Toujeo at no cost to patients who meet program eligibility requirements.

Eligibility requirements include:

  • Patient must be a U.S. citizen or resident and be under the care of a licensed healthcare provider authorized to prescribe, dispense and administer medicine in the U.S.
  • Patient must have no insurance coverage or no access to the prescribed product or treatment via their insurance
  • Patient must not be eligible for Medicare or Medicaid
    • See program application for Medicare Part D eligibility criteria
  • Patient must meet the following financial criteria:
    • Annual household income of ≤250% of the current Federal Poverty Level for all non-Oncology/non-Hematology Products
Persons in family / household Poverty Guideline 2015* Maximum Annual Household Income (for uninsured or functionally uninsured patients)
250%
1 $11,770 $29,425
2 $15,930 $39,825
3 $20,090 $50,225
4 $24,250 $60,625
5 $28,410 $71,025
6 $32,570 $81,425
7 $36,730 $91,825
8 $40,890 $102,225
For families / households with more than 8 persons, add $4,160 for each individual person All products except Oncology / Hematology

CO-PAY Savings Card –  Private/Commercial Insurance Coverage Help

Apidra

Those who take Apidra can use the Apidra® No Co-Pay Savings Program with their Apidra® prescription payments. Activate your card by checking this box and you can get No Co-Pay* on Apidra®. If you’re registering someone under the age of 18, please call 855-242-6938.

  • The card is not valid for prescriptions purchased under Medicaid, Medicare, or similar federal, state, or other government funded benefit programs.
  • Only patients who reside in the United States or Puerto Rico can participate in this program.
  • All commercially insured patients are eligible, even those with insurance that places Apidra® on the 3rd tier.
  • Cash-paying patients are also eligible for a benefit of up to $100 off per prescription.

Lantus

Sanofi offers a discount card for those who use Lantus SoloStar – pay no more than $25 for up to 3 prescriptions. (Maximum $100 benefit off of each prescription, for up to $300 for three prescriptions.)

  • The card is not valid for prescriptions purchased under Medicaid, Medicare, or similar federal, state, or other government funded benefit programs.
  • Only patients who reside in the United States or Puerto Rico can participate in this program.
  • All commercially insured patients are eligible.

Toujeo

Pay no more than $15 for the 12 months after activating the savings program. (Maximum benefit is $400 off per prescription depending on your out of pocket costs.)

  • The card is not valid for prescriptions purchased under Medicaid, Medicare, or similar federal, state, or other government funded benefit programs.
  • Only patients who reside in the United States or Puerto Rico can participate in this program.
  • All commercially insured patients are eligible.

Afrezza

With the Afrezza Patient Savings Card, you pay $0 for your first prescription. After that you pay no more than $30 for each prescription refill, depending on your insurance coverage. With each prescription, you get 2 inhalers and a month’s supply of Afrezza® cartridges.

  • Offer is not valid for patients if their prescriptions are paid in part or in full by any state or federally funded programs, including, but not limited to, Medicare or Medicaid, Medigap, VA, DOD or TriCare.
  • Only patients who reside in the United States, Puerto Rico, Guam or the US Virgin Islands can participate in this program.
  • If you have any questions about this program, please call 866-991-2840.

Diabetes Oral Medications

Astra-Zeneca Prescription Savings Program– NO insurance

If you take FARXIGA, KOMBIGLYZE XR, ONGLYZA, or XIGDUO XR, you may be eligible for free medications mailed to your home or provider. Requirements include:

  • You must be resident of the US, or have a Work Visa or Green Card.
  • You aren’t currently receiving prescription drug coverage under a private insurance or government program, or receiving any other assistance to help pay for medicine.
  • Your annual income* should be at or below:
    • $35,000 for a single person
    • $48,000 for a family of two
    • $60,000 for a family of three
    • $70,000 for a family of four
    • $80,000 for a family of five
      • *Income limits may be higher in Alaska and Hawaii

If you are a Medicare Part D Beneficiary:

  • You aren’t eligible for or enrolled in Limited Income Subsidy (LIS) for Medicare Part D

If you have experienced a life changing event in the past year, and your financial documentation does not accurately reflect your current situation, we encourage you to apply for the AZ&Me Prescription Savings Program. You may still meet the criteria to enroll. Some examples of this type of event would be:

  • Loss of employment
  • Change in income
  • Loss of, or change in, prescription drug coverage
  • Marriage
  • Change in household number

For assistance and additional information, you can call  1-800-AZandMe (292-6363).

CO-PAY Savings Card –  Private/Commercial Insurance Coverage Help

Farxiga and Xigduo XR have a prescription Savings Card that can be $0 per month as long as your physician prescribes a dose of either medication.

You may be eligible for the Savings Card if:

  • You are insured by commercial insurance and your insurance does not cover the full cost of your prescription, or you are not insured and are responsible for the cost of your prescriptions.
  • Patients who are enrolled in a state or federally funded prescription insurance program are not eligible for this offer. This includes patients enrolled in Medicare Part D, Medicaid, Medigap, Veterans Affairs (VA), Department of Defense (DOD) programs or TriCare, and patients who are Medicare eligible and enrolled in an employer-sponsored group waiver health plan or government-subsidized prescription drug benefit program for retirees.
  • You are enrolled in a state or federally funded prescription insurance program, you may not use this Savings Card even if you elect to be processed as an uninsured (cash-paying) patient.
  • You are 18 years of age or older.
  • This offer is not insurance and is restricted to residents of the United States and Puerto Rico.

Onglyza and Kombiglyze XR has a prescription savings card as well that can be $0 per month.

You may be eligible for the Savings Card if:

  • You are insured by commercial insurance and your insurance does not cover the full cost of your prescription, or you are not insured and are responsible for the cost of your prescriptions.
  • Patients who are enrolled in a state or federally funded prescription insurance program are not eligible for this offer. This includes patients enrolled in Medicare Part D, Medicaid, Medigap, Veterans Affairs (VA), Department of Defense (DOD) programs or TriCare, and patients who are Medicare eligible and enrolled in an employer-sponsored group waiver health plan or government-subsidized prescription drug benefit program for retirees.
  • You are enrolled in a state or federally funded prescription insurance program, you may not use this Savings Card even if you elect to be processed as an uninsured (cash-paying) patient.
  • You are 18 years of age or older.
  • This offer is not insurance and is restricted to residents of the United States and Puerto Rico.

Eli Lilly – Lilly Cares – NO insurance

Eli Lilly offers Cymbalta under the Lilly Cares program.

  • You must be a U.S. resident. (This program is not available in Puerto Rico or the US Virgin Islands.)
  • You must not have prescription coverage.
  • You must meet the household guidelines:

Household Income Guidelines:

  • The total number of people in the household includes yourself and each of your dependents.
  • Total yearly income includes incomes from all earners in your household before taxes and deductions.
  • To qualify, your total yearly income cannot exceed the values listed below.

 

Number of People in Your Home 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
Total Yearly Income
(48 Contiguous States and DC)
$35,310 $47,790 $60,270 $72,750 $85,230 $97,710 $110,190 $122,670
Alaska $44,160 $59,760 $75,360 $90,960 $106,560 $122,160 $137,760 $153,360
Hawaii $40,650 $54,990 $69,330 $83,670 $98,010 $112,350 $126,690 $141,030

For additional information about Lilly Cares, call at 1-800-545-6962.

*A 120-day supply of medicine will be shipped to your health care provider’s office. Prescription refills will be available during your 1-year enrollment period.

Boehringer Ingelheim Cares Patient Assistance Program – NO insurance

Tradjenta, Jentadueto, Jardiance, and Glyxambi are available under the BI Cares Patient Assistance Program.

  • You must be a U.S. resident ineligible for private prescription, Medicaid, or Low Income Subsidy coverage.
  • You must meet the established financial criteria, which was not posted online.
  • You must be 18 years of age or older. Please note, while people of all ages are eligible for the program, applications can be sent only to people at least 18 years of age.

Medication is shipped directly to the patient’s home.

Applications are evaluated on a case by case basis. Current application form, valid prescription, and patient’s income documentation are required.To learn more about the Boehringer Ingelheim Patient Assistance Program, please call 1-800-556-8317 or apply online at www.bipatientassistance.com.

CO-PAY Savings Card –  Private/Commercial Insurance Coverage Help

Trajenta has a prescription savings card, which can drop the price for your prescription to as little as $10 per month. Eligible patients 18 years or older may pay as little as $10/month with a maximum savings up to $150/monthly prescription.  Only valid for commercially insured patients in the 50 United States, DC, and Puerto Rico. Not eligible if prescriptions are paid for in part/full by state or federally funded program(s), like Medicare Part D, Medicaid, Vet. Aff., Dept. of Def., or TRICARE and where prohibited by law. Offer may change at any time, without notice.

Jentadueto also has a prescription savings card, which can drop the price for your prescription to as little as $10 per month. Eligible patients 18 years or older may pay as little as $10/month with a maximum savings up to $150/monthly prescription.  Only valid for commercially insured patients in the 50 United States, DC, and Puerto Rico. Not eligible if prescriptions are paid for in part/full by state or federally funded program(s), like Medicare Part D, Medicaid, Vet. Aff., Dept. of Def., or TRICARE and where prohibited by law. Offer may change at any time, without notice.

Jardiance also has a prescription savings card – eligible patients get their first year’s prescription FREE. Eligible patients 18 years or older may pay as little as $0/month with a maximum savings up to $384/monthly prescription. Only valid for commercially insured patients in the 50 United States, DC, and Puerto Rico. Not eligible if prescriptions are paid for in part/whole by state or federally funded program(s), like Medicare Part D, Medicaid, Vet. Aff., Dept. of Def., or TRICARE.

Glyxambi also has a prescription savings card and eligible patients get their first year’s prescription FREE. Eligible patients 18 years or older may pay as little as $0/month with a maximum savings up to $538/monthly prescription. Only valid for commercially insured patients in the 50 United States, DC, and Puerto Rico. Not eligible if prescriptions are paid for in part/whole by state or federally funded program(s), like Medicare Part D, Medicaid, Vet. Aff., Dept. of Def., or TRICARE. Offer may change at any time, without notice.

GlaxoSmithKline – NO insurance

Avandia is available under the Bridges to Access Program for individuals not on Medicare.

To qualify for Bridges To Access, patients must:

  • Live in one of the 50 states, District of Columbia or Puerto Rico.
  • Have no prescription drug benefits through any insurer/payer/program.
  • Not be eligible for Medicaid or Puerto Rico’s Government Health Plan Mi Salud. Puerto Rico applicants who are financially eligible for Puerto Rico’s Government Health Plan must have documentation of denial of coverage through Mi Salud before applying to a GSK Patient Assistance Program.
  • Have gross monthly household income at or below the following:
Maximum Monthly Gross Income
Household Size 
48 states and D.C.
Alaska
Hawaii
Puerto Rico
1
$2,452.08
$3,066.67
$2,822.92
$2,000.00
2
$3,318.75
$4,150.00
$3,818.75
$2,500.00
3
$4,185.42
$5,233.33
$4,814.58
$3,000.00
4
$5,052.09
$6,316.66
$5,810.41
$3,500.00
For each additional person, add
$866.67
$1,083.33
$995.83
$500.00

You can apply by mail or fax (proof of income must be provided), or call Bridges to Access at 1-866-PATIENT (1-866-728-4368) after downloading the application.

If you are on Medicare and have a Part D prescription plan, you may be able to receive Avandia through GSK Access.

To qualify for GSK Access and enroll, you must:

  • Be enrolled in a Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Plan.
  • Have spent at least $600 on prescription medicines through their Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Plan during this calendar year.
  • Live in one of the 50 states, District of Columbia or Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico applicants who are financially eligible for Puerto Rico’s Government Health Plan must have documentation of denial of coverage through Mi Salud before applying to a GSK Patient Assistance Program.
  • Have total monthly household income at or below the following:
Maximum Monthly Gross Income
Household Size 
48 states and D.C.
Alaska
Hawaii
Puerto Rico
1
$2,452.08
$3,066.67
$2,822.92
$2,000.00
2
$3,318.75
$4,150.00
$3,818.75
$2,500.00
3
$4,185.42
$5,233.33
$4,814.58
$3,000.00
4
$5,052.09
$6,316.66
$5,810.41
$3,500.00
For each additional person, add
$866.67
$1,083.33
$995.83
$500.00

Upon initial enrollment in GSK Access and with a valid prescription on file, the first 90-day supply of GlaxoSmithKline medicine(s) will be shipped to the address provided on the application. (Some medicines are only available at a retail pharmacy. Patients will be notified if their prescription is for one of these medicines.) Medicines received from this program do not count toward True Out-of-Pocket Spending Costs (TrOOP).

Fill out this application online, download and add documentation to send or fax. If you have questions about this program, call 1-866-518-HELP.

CO-PAY Savings Card –  Private/Commercial Insurance Coverage Help

Tanzeum Coupons, up to 12 months free.

Tanzeum, a GSK product, has a “dollars off” coupon program. Coupon program eligibility is extended to patients with or without insurance coverage with a valid signed prescription.

  • You are NOT eligible to use this coupon if you are a government beneficiary. You are a government beneficiary if you are enrolled in any federal healthcare program, including Medicaid, Medicare (Part D or otherwise), or any similar federal or state programs, including any state pharmaceutical assistance program. Further, you CANNOT use this coupon if you are Medicare eligible.

Eligible patients without insurance can receive the dollars off amount specified on the coupon. Patients with insurance can receive up to the amount for which they are responsible for the prescription, less any amounts specified on the coupon.

CO-PAY Savings Card –  Private/Commercial Insurance Coverage Help

Invokana or Invokamet CarePath Savings Program

This program offers 12 months of prescription co-pay relief (According to Invoking CarePath’s marketing material “12 months NO COST to you” for those who have been prescribed Invokana or Invokamet.) You must have commercial insurance.

After registering, you receive a savings card that you use at your retail pharmacy. It is subject to a $4,600 annual program benefit, 12 months after activation or 12 uses, whichever comes first. It is not valid for those enrolled in Medicare Part D or Medicaid, or those enrolled in a federal or state subsidized healthcare program that covers prescription drugs such as TRICARE. The offer is only valid for new enrollment until December 31, 2016.

Johnson & Johnson Patient Assistance Program– NO insurance

If you do not have prescription coverage, you may be eligible to receive Invokana or Invokamet through the Johnson & Johnson Patient Assistance Program.

Requirements are:

  • You do not have public or private prescription coverage.
  • You reside in the U.S. or a U.S. territory.
  • You are being treated as an outpatient by a U.S. healthcare provider.
  • You meet annual financial eligibility criteria:
    • Single person: $23,540 annual income or less
    • Two person family: $31,860 or less
    • Larger families: income levels are adjusted “accordingly”

You can begin the application process online by clicking here or by calling 1-800-652-6227.

Merck Helps – NO insurance

Merck Patient Assistance Program

Merck offers a prescription assistance program for Januvia, Janumet, and Janumet XR.

  • You do not have to be a US citizen. Legal residents of the United States, including US Territories, are also eligible.
  • Your prescription for a Merck medicine from a health care provider licensed in the United States.*
  • You do not have insurance or other coverage for your prescription medicine. Some examples of other insurance coverage include private insurance, HMOs, Medicaid, Medicare, state pharmacy assistance programs, veterans assistance, or any other social service agency support.
  • You may qualify for the program if you have a household income of $47,080 or less for individuals, $63,720 or less for couples, or $97,000 or less for a family of 4.

The application for this program must be downloaded, filled out, and brought to your medical provider. Click here for the Merck Helps application.  (It is also available in Spanish.)

Individuals who don’t meet the insurance criteria may still qualify for the Merck Patient Assistance Program if they attest that they have special circumstances of financial and medical hardship, and their income meets the program criteria. A single application may provide for up to 1 year of medicine free of charge to eligible individuals and an individual may reapply as many times as needed.

If you have any questions about the Merck Patient Assistance Program including the status of an application, please call 1-800-727-5400, 8 AM to 8 PM EST, Monday through Friday.

There is also the ACT Program. The ACT Program provides free reimbursement support services to help answer questions related to insurance coverage and reimbursement. If you do not meet the prescription drug coverage criteria, your income meets the program criteria, and there are special circumstances of financial and medical hardship that apply to your situation, you can request that an exception be made for you. If you have any questions, the ACT Program Specialists are available 8 AM to 8 PM EST, Monday through Friday at 1-866-363-6379.

CO-PAY Savings Card –  Private/Commercial Insurance Coverage Help

If you don’t meet the criteria, you can also try and use the “Januvia copay assistance coupon”. 

Januvia’s coupon is for “as little as $5 per prescription” for up to 12 months. Here’s the information on the restrictions and what you’d need to do. 

CO-PAY Savings Card –  Private/Commercial Insurance Coverage Help

Pfizer

If you use Glucotrol, Glynase Prestab, Glyset, and Lyrica, Pfizer offers a discount card for individuals who have NO prescription coverage. You’ll need to call 866-706-2400 to apply. 

  • You must be prescribed a Pfizer medicine available at a savings.
  • Have no prescription coverage.
  • Live in the United States, Puerto Rico, or the U.S. Virgin Islands

They also offer free medication for uninsured individuals through some clinics and hospitals. You can see if there is one located near you by entering your zip code at this website

Lyrica Co-Pay Savings Card

Lyrica Co-pay of $25 per month up to 12 months. There are restrictions, but worth checking out and downloading. 

Other Savings Programs

Patient Access Network Foundation

The Patient Access Network (PAN) Foundation, an independent, national 501 (c)(3) organization dedicated to providing underinsured patients with co-payment assistance through more than 60 disease-specific programs that give them access to the treatments they need.

Diabetic Foot Ulcers

Eligibility Criteria

  •  Patient should be insured and insurance must cover the medication for which patient seeks assistance.
  •  The medication must treat the disease directly.
  •  Patient must reside and receive treatment in the United States.
  •  Patient’s income must fall below 400% of the Federal Poverty Level. (Here’s the handy chart showing you what that is based on how many people are in your household.)

Diabetic Macular Edema

Eligibility Criteria

  •  Patient should be insured and insurance must cover the medication for which patient seeks assistance.
  •  The medication must fight the disease directly.
  •  Patient must reside and receive treatment in the United States.
  •  Patient’s income must fall below 500% of the Federal Poverty Level. (You can use the chart and do the calculations for 500%. For instance, if you are a household of one, you qualify if you earn less than $48,350 gross income annually. For a household of three, you qualify if the household earns less than $98,950.)

Kidney Transplant Immunosuppressants 

Eligibility Criteria

  •  Patient should be insured and insurance must cover the medication for which patient seeks assistance.
  •  The medication must fight the disease directly.
  •  Patient must reside and receive treatment in the United States.
  •  Patient’s income must fall below 500% of the Federal Poverty Level. (You can use the chart and do the calculations for 500%. For instance, if you are a household of one, you qualify if you earn less than $48,350 gross income annually. For a household of three, you qualify if the household earns less than $98,950.)

Solid Organ Transplant Immunosuppressant Therapy

This will cover pancreas transplants and kidney-pancreas transplants.

Eligibility Criteria

  •  Patient should be insured and insurance must cover the medication for which patient seeks assistance.
  •  The medication must treat the disease directly.
  •  Patient must reside and receive treatment in the United States.
  •  Patient’s income must fall below 400% of the Federal Poverty Level. (Here’s the handy chart showing you what that is based on how many people are in your household.)

Retinal Vein Occlusion (RVO)

From the Patient Access Network Foundation website:

Central and branch retinal vein occulusions (RVO) happen when the vein at the back of the eye is blocked. This blockage causes pressure build and some of the small blood vessels in the eye may burst and cause fluid to leak into the retina. If untreated the vessels may be able to repair themselves and bypass the blockage but there may be permanent damage to the retina resulting in vision loss. 

Eligibility Criteria

  •  Patient should be insured and insurance must cover the medication for which patient seeks assistance.
  •  The medication must fight the disease directly.
  •  Patient must reside and receive treatment in the United States.
  •  Patient’s income must fall below 500% of the Federal Poverty Level. (You can use the chart and do the calculations for 500%. For instance, if you are a household of one, you qualify if you earn less than $48,350 gross income annually. For a household of three, you qualify if the household earns less than $98,950.)

 

Healthwell Foundation

For children under eighteen years of age

HealthWell Pediatric Assistance Fund® assists children 18 years old or younger living with a chronic or life-altering condition that their families are struggling to treat due to cost. They provide financial assistance to families so their children can start or continue critical medical treatments, including diabetes.

Families must meet HealthWell’s standard income and insurance eligibility criteria to qualify for a grant. Grants are awarded on a case by case basis. To apply for a grant, call 1-800-675-8416 anytime Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (ET).

  • You must have some form of health insurance (major medical or prescription drug) that covers part of the cost of your medication.
  • Families with incomes up to 400 percent of the Federal Poverty Level may qualify. HealthWell also considers the cost of living in a particular city or state.
  • If you appear to be eligible for assistance through the Pediatric Assistance Fund, additional information and documentation is required for review and consideration prior to grant approval. Once all information has been received and reviewed by the committee, grant determinations will be made.
  • You will be asked to provide the Foundation with the patient’s diagnosis, which must be verified by a physician, nurse practitioner, or physician assistant’s signature. The patient must receive treatment in the United States.

Immunosuppressive Treatment for Solid Organ Transplant Recipients

HealthWell will pay for the following medications for immunosuppressive therapy:

Astagraf XL, Cellcept, Gengraf, Hecoria, Imuran, Myfortic, Neoral, Nulojix, Prograf, Rapamune, Sandimmune, and Zortress.

  • You must have some form of health insurance (major medical or prescription drug) that covers part of the cost of your medication.
  • Families with incomes up to 400 percent of the Federal Poverty Level may qualify. HealthWell also considers the cost of living in a particular city or state.

You can apply online for this medication grant here.  or call 800-675-8416. Agents are available Monday–Friday 9am–5pm EST.

Insulin Pumps

Please be aware that many insulin pump companies do not offer charitable or financial assistance to obtain insulin pumps or supplies. If you find yourself without the financial means to continue on insulin pump therapy, contact your medical team right away for alternatives.

Medtronic MiniMed

The Medtronic Financial Assistance Program offers help to those who:

  • Use an insulin pump and/or continuous glucose monitoring
  • Meet specific income guidelines
  • Have an insurance company that allows for additional assistance

It also provides temporary coverage for specific situations:

  • Unemployment within the last 12 months
  • Gap in insurance coverage because of a pre-existing condition
  • Multiple pumpers in one household
  • Permanent disability

You’ll need to call Medtronic 1-800-646-4633 and select option 4 to get specific information.

Other pump companies offer self-funding payment programs. You should call them individually to find out the particulars. (The plans may change based on what you are looking for…)

*** If you have information regarding insulin pump programs, please contact me via email at theperfectd [at] gmail.com – you’ll be helping us all out!***

Equipment

Charles Ray III Diabetes Association

The CR3 Diabetes Association, Inc. is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. 

According to the website, the organization is currently accepting applications for insulin pumps, blood glucose meters, and blood glucose test strips. You must review the following criteria:

  • You are uninsured
  • You are under insured (which means that your yearly deductible is unattainable)
  • Household income is less than $60,000
  • Your physician has recommended insulin pump therapy for you

They will only accept online applications on their website. The link to the online application is here.

Supplies for CWD Foundation (For children aged 18 years and younger)

Supplies for CWD Foundation (SCWDF) is a branch of the Children with Diabetes Foundation, a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, providing short-term (up to three months) diabetes supplies for children with type 1 diabetes who are in emergency situations. (An emergency situation may be defined as: loss of health insurance, loss of a parent’s job, or a local disaster, combined with the family having no other resources with which to purchase diabetes supplies.)

Diabetes supplies is defined as any of the following: blood glucose meter, blood glucose test strips, insulin, insulin pump supplies, blood or urine ketone strips, lancets, syringes, and glucose tablets.

Download and fill out this application after reviewing all the requirements on the website.

Blood Glucose Meters/Test Strips

Freestyle Promise Program – $15 copays and a free Abbott Freestyle meter.

  • Co-pay assistance is not valid for prescriptions reimbursed under Medicare, Medicaid, or similar federal or state programs or in Massachusetts.
  • Eligible patients are responsible for the first $15 of co-pay under their insurance coverage, and can receive up to a maximum of $50 in co-pay savings. Uninsured patients are also eligible for savings in most situations.

Contour Choice Program – For ContourNext test strips. Eligible patients pay the first $15 in co-pays each month. Insured patients can receive savings of up to $35 per month of co-pays using the Contour Choice Card.

Not valid for patients with prescription benefits covered by federal and/or state government programs (e.g. Medicare, Medicaid.)

Free Meter Offers

Accu-Chek Nano or Aviva

One Touch Verio or Verio IQ Meter

Low Cost Meter/Strips Offers

Abott Neo Coupon Offer – The Neo is a low-cost meter and strips option, often costing less than co-pay prescriptions.

Clinical Trials

Do not forget about participating in clinical trials, some of which provide monetary compensation in addition to supplies and medications at no cost. (Some also provide physician/medical visits!)

Please seriously consider participating in these trials – in some, you can get access to pumps or medications that would not be available to you due to cost – or FDA approval. And… you can help others (and yourself) through clinical trials.

Click here for a list of clinical trials for diabetes that are recruiting  (general, which include both Type 1, Type 2, LADA, MODY, and gestational).

Any other sites/supplies/organizations/medication programs that might be helpful to others? Help us!


Got Twitter? Help spread the word easily by clicking here:

Tweet: Need help with U.S. #diabetes supplies and meds? Click here: http://ctt.ec/q2s85+ Includes co-pay help for insulin, oral meds.


 

Do As I Say, Not As I Do

ready-to-go-1472989-640x480When it comes to “organizing my diabetes” and making sure I have plenty of extra supplies when I travel, I’m a convert to being over prepared.

I had an insulin pump failure almost a year ago while at a conference. It could have been disastrous if I hadn’t been standing next to someone who happened to have the same brand of pump and happened to have brought her “travel spare” pump. (It was a diabetes conference, so the odds were slightly higher that this might be possible.) However, if she hadn’t been there, I would have been up a creek without a paddle… or long-acting insulin… on a Friday night.

I talk about being prepared for the unexpected and traveling with diabetes. It’s easy to talk about it.

My “go diabetes!” travel bag (lovingly packed in a ziplock plastic bag for easy viewing by TSA) has pump supplies, insulin for the pump, back up insulin pens (both short and long-acting), pen needles, a syringe (for McGuyver purposes) blood meter strips, and all the other fun items that we lug around just in case. Depending upon how long my trip is, that bag may be accompanied by a second “go diabetes!” travel bag. I’ve learned my lesson.

Or not. 

I carry glucagon in my purse. (Not that a stranger is going to rummage around in my purse if I’m passed out, but family knows it’s there.) I throw insulin pens in my purse, even though they don’t get used often. An extra infusion set. What don’t I carry?

An extra pump body and insulin cartridge for the Asante Snap pump I refuse to give up just yet. (I still have supplies, so I’ll use it until I have nothing left. Boo.)

We weren’t going far yesterday. The Kid and I headed up to my parents’ house to visit; a two hour drive at most. While on the highway (of course, traveling exactly the speed limit), my pump alarmed.

“Low power…. change pump body soon.”

The Asante Snap pump was brilliant in incorporating the battery into the pump body, so when I replaced the body, I got a fresh power supply and fresh cartridge of insulin. The pump body is changed every week. This was a new alarm for me. And I had changed my pump body two days before.

“Well, that’s another thing to put on the list when I get home this evening.”

Less than ten minutes later, a high-pitched screech had me scrambling to pull the pump out of the clip case on my hip. The pump was dead. Pining for the fjords.

“Blech.” Please note: this was not the word that I used.

I spent the rest of the drive doing calculations of IOB and looking at my CGM. Arriving at my parents’ house, I explained the situation and that I needed a few minutes to figure out what I needed to do next, because… I had no clue.

You see, I haven’t taken a long-acting insulin in 16 years. In fact, the longest amount of time I have been off of an insulin pump was for 12 hours, during the prep and c-section of The Kid and I was attached to an IV. I’ve never done a pump vacation or an untethered regimen.

I didn’t have my “in case of emergency, take X units of Lantus” notecard and even if I did have the piece of paper, it wouldn’t have been correct; taking Invokana has changed my total daily dosage.

I called my CDE and left a message. I texted her as well, hoping that she’d see that before she got the message. Then I crowdsourced/hiveminded/asked my DOC friends for what they would do, because I just didn’t know how much Lantus I should take.

In a few minutes, I had varying responses (with the “your diabetes may vary” caveat that we all give) and then the text from my CDE came through…

“Do you have insulin on you?”

“Yes, pens of both.”

“Do you have pump supplies at home? Will you be home today?”

“Yes and yes.”

And then it hit me at the same time I read her next text:

“You can take the fast-acting as a basal in small amounts like your pump basal until you get home.”

I microbolused for the rest of the day, checking both my CGM and fingersticks. (My basal is less than a unit per hour, so adjustments were made.)

Got home, changed my pump body, and plugged back in. It was like nothing ever happened. Back to the status quo.

And I was humbled.

My goal for the rest of the week?

  • Get the correct estimated dosage for Lantus in case something does go wrong with my pump again.
  • Create a purse “go diabetes!” bag with a pump body.
  • Thank my friends for the great advice and the non-judgement.

Do as I say, not as I do.

I may talk about being prepared, but now I have to learn to walk the walk, instead of just talking the talk.

Dim Sum: Ding Dong Diabetes

IMG_0113Dim sum is a tradition in my family, which is strange seeing as we are not Cantonese, don’t speak Cantonese, and my father won’t use chopsticks. Growing up near Boston, we would trek into Chinatown and feast on delicious pastries filled with barbecued pork or red bean paste and dumplings with delectable seafood or vegetables. Over the years, I’ve enjoyed dim sum in many major metropolitan cities. Still haven’t made it to Hong Kong, which is dim sum Mecca, but that area is on my bucket list.

It’s a social experience that I encourage everyone to try at least once; think of it as brunch, which is always best with friends. You’ll often see large multi-generational families talking animatedly around circular tables as mountains of steamed buns are snapped up and devoured.

Those Carts Hold Secrets

Popular dim sum restaurants will have women bringing carts piled high with steam baskets, their treasures hidden under lids. You peer into each cart as she grabs the knob, unveiling the dish. If you want what’s inside, it is plopped (often unceremoniously) onto the table. If not, the jarring clang of the lid signals an opportunity passed to try chicken feet or tripe. (I’m adventurous; I’ve tried chicken feet, but I still haven’t checked tripe off my bucket list. Tripe is way, way down on my bucket list.)

Before the server leaves, she will mark a ticket on your table, signifying what you purchased. At the end of the meal, it’s tallied and you pay for what you ate. It can be inexpensive if you only order a few dishes, but often, you’ll find you want to try just.one.more.thing… you know how it goes. I usually end up paying a lot more than intended, and I’m not just thinking about money.

Dosing Dim Sum Disasters

It’s not surprising when I tell you that dim sum is hard to dose insulin for. Lots of rice, rice flour, syrups, and sugar glazes. Some items are steamed, some are fried. I have learned, over the years, on dim sum days, my blood glucose management is going to be tricky.

Pre-pump and pre-CGM days, we did a lot of extra shots and extra blood glucose checks. I’ve tried pre-bolusing, extended boluses, temp basals, and know what I’ve learned? Every dim sum meal is different. Some meals I’ve totally owned and others have sent my blood glucose level soaring, despite a huge push of insulin well before I dug into those steam baskets of yummy.

Sunday was one of those days. John, The Kid, and I trekked out to dim sum in our city. Before we even sat down, I had pre-bolused several units and then set an extended bolus. Throughout the meal, the sound of laughter coming from our table was punctuated with the beeps of my pump as I added a unit or two of insulin, calculating how many carbs were being ingested.

Ding Dong: Diabetes!

ring-my-bell-belle-de-jour-1181765-639x871Dim sum was delicious, but less than an hour later… Ding dong: diabetes! My CGM notified me that my blood glucose level was rising (thank you, double arrows, I already knew), but I had so much insulin already on board that I was afraid to rage bolus and bring it down. For the first time in a long time, my meter spit out a 392 mg/dl. Sigh. I guzzled water, checked for ketones, and watched the CGM for any sign of a down arrow.

That down arrow took its own sweet time showing up. By bedtime, I was back in range, but I cursed the dosing failure.

Do I regret eating dim sum? Nope.

Will I eat dim sum again? Yes.

Will I try a different tactic dosing my insulin next time? Yes.

Do I wish that my pancreas still worked? Yes. Every day. 

Does anyone have suggestions for dosing for dim sum? I’m all ears… (but no chicken feet or tripe…) I’d love to hear your experiences!


Got Twitter? Help spread the word about The Diabetes UnConference Las Vegas scholarships available now by clicking this link. Literally click the link and that’s all you need to do.
Tweet: Scholarships to The #Diabetes UnConference LV available. Learn more here: http://ctt.ec/570rK+ #doc #dsma


 

 

© Bea Sparks

The Diabetes UnConference: Scholarships Available for Las Vegas and More…

I would like to apologize in advance by what might look by an unnecessary overabundance of exclamation points. It’s the only way I could really and truly express my enthusiasm. In fact, I took some out when I edited.

SCHOLARSHIPS!

© Christopher Angell

© Christopher Angell

Scholarships are available for 2016 The Diabetes UnConference in Las Vegas (March 10 – 13, 2016), the first and only peer support idea exchange for all adults with diabetes (no matter what type) and those who love people with diabetes (i.e. spouses, significant others, parents…).

There are both travel (U.S. only for travel expenses) and room only scholarships.

Deadline to enter is September 30, 2015 and all it takes is a few minutes to share your thoughts in a form. (I don’t pick the recipients; a scholarship committee does after the identifying information is removed, so any attempts to bribe me with delectable gifts will be eaten without remorse. )

These scholarships are made available through The Diabetes Collective, Inc., the 501(c)(3) non-profit that runs The Diabetes UnConference and the gracious and generous private donors who want people impacted by diabetes to be able to get face-to-face peer support.

If you’re interested in donating to The Diabetes Collective for the scholarship fund, please click here:

The Diabetes Collective Scholarship Fund

 (It is tax-deductible!)

We will be offering scholarships for The Diabetes UnConference in Atlantic City, too. (September 10 – 13, 2016.) The announcement will come out in the spring of 2016. Hold on to your hats, which I am sure are fashionable and keep the sun off your gorgeous face.

REGISTRATION FOR PEOPLE WHO LOVE US!

2016 is going to be even more amazing, as we are adding a separate session track for people who love us. Sometimes called T3s or Type Awesomes, these are the people who love a person with diabetes and needs the same type of peer support people with diabetes get at The Diabetes UnConference.

If you are a spouse, a significant other, a parent, an adult sibling, or an adult friend who loves a person with diabetes, then register. While we will have some sessions that will be in the same room as those you love (PWD), you’ll have safe, private sessions to talk about the things you can’t discuss with a PWD: your fears, your frustrations, your ways of coping – learning from others and building a face-to-face connection for your own peer support.

Register, even if your own PWD may not want/or can’t attend.

Note: This conference is for adults only; no one under 21 will be allowed into the conference or conference area and there is no childcare available onsite. There is a fabulous conference for kids – CWD’s Friends For Life, where they can meet their peers. I love that conference and what it offers to kids. 

PRE-CONFERENCE SESSIONS!

We are adding Friday pre-conference (or pre-UnConference?) sessions! These sessions will be included at no charge for registered attendees of The Diabetes UnConference and, if space is available, for non-attendees. More details to follow, but if you’re planning on heading to Las Vegas, you might want to see if you can stretch out your trip.

Multiple sessions will be available from 11:30am all the way to 4:00pm on Friday, March 10, 2016. No food or beverages will be served during these sessions, but there are a lot of great dining options and a convenience store in the hotel. We’ll cover a wide variety of topics, but you will need to sign up for these sessions in advance, so stay tuned. (A great way to stay on top of it all is to sign up for The Diabetes UnConference newsletter – we don’t sell or share your email address when you sign up, so your secret identity is safe with us.)

LINK TO RESERVE YOUR FLAMINGO LAS VEGAS HOTEL ROOM IS ALIVE!

GO Room

GO Room King

Reserve your room now at the special rate The Flamingo Las Vegas has for The Diabetes UnConference 2016 attendees.

If you click this link, you’ll get pricing for each type of room and what’s included in your room rate. 

If you click this link, it will take you directly to the special reservation page… Presto!

Last year, people who didn’t know each other connected via The Diabetes UnConference FB page and saved some moola (and developed some wonderful friendships…), so if you’re looking for a way to save… just go to the FB page and ask!

DO STUFF TOGETHER!

© Bea Sparks

© Bea Sparks

We listened to the feedback from last year’s alumni and one of the things they suggested this year were casual opportunities to “do stuff together” before the official conference begins. It was just one of many great ideas that we’ll be incorporating into the 2016 conferences in Las Vegas and Atlantic City. (Our community is creative, insightful, and fun!)

Options will become available in the late fall to register for these “do stuff together” excursions , including a “let’s do outdoorsy stuff together,” “let’s do fast driving stuff together,” “let’s do just as exciting but more cultural stuff together,”, and some “let’s do a meal together.” These will be available on Thursday and Friday morning. These are not included in the registration; you’ll register separately, and are only available for registered attendees.

ATLANTIC CITY REGISTRATION IS ALSO OPEN!

Resorts Two TowersResorts Casino in Las Vegas will be the hosting hotel for The Diabetes UnConference 2016 – Atlantic City from September 9 – 11, 2016. Yep. It’s a long ways off, but we’re already in planning mode. We’ll be one of the first conferences in their multimillion dollar expansion of their conference facilities!

Take a look at what’s on tap. Yep. It’s a long way off. Nice to have something to look forward to… And if you are planning on attending both Las Vegas and Atlantic City, let me know and you’ll get a discount code for the Atlantic City registration that will make you do a happy dance on the beach at Resorts Casino (because it’s right on the beach!)

If you’re just interesting in registering for Atlantic City… Boom! Here’s the registration link!

We’ve got more good things up our sleeves, which are currently rolled up and excited for 2016! Join us!

(And here are the exclamation points that I removed in editing, in case you wanted to see them: !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I’m a little excited. Can you tell?)

One more thing… If you have Twitter, please spread the word:
Tweet: Scholarships to The #Diabetes UnConference LV available. Learn more here: http://ctt.ec/570rK+ #doc #dsma

5 Things I Learned from Meeting With My Congressman About Diabetes

washington-dc-7-1230576-639x852In the United States, we vote to have individuals represent us in Congress. Senators and representatives are “hired” by us to speak up and vote on important issues that impact our lives. Sounds like a cushy job, right? Show up, vote on a bill or two, then go home and talk to the people in your district that voted you in.

They wish.

Do you know how many bills and resolutions get introduced in Congress every two years? (We are currently in the 114th Congress, which began on January 6, 2015 and will run until January 5, 2017.) On average…about 12,000.

6,000 bills and resolutions per year. 

Some don’t get far. Some do. The 113th Congress enacted 296 laws and passed 663 resolutions in their two years. (Example of a resolution? S.Res. 564 (113th): A resolution honoring conservation on the centennial of the passenger pigeon extinction. Seriously.)

Legislation regarding diabetes is part of those 6,000 bills and resolutions each year. Just as I don’t expect medical professionals to understand every subtle nuance of diabetes technology, I don’t expect that my congressperson would be able to pull the diabetes bills currently on the Hill out of thin air. It’s madness. You try to remember 6,000 things!

That’s why, if you want your congressperson to be able to cosponsor or act on diabetes bills, after you send a message to your state’s reps in Congress, you can take another, more personal step… you can visit.

That’s what I did last week.

And this is what I learned about meeting with your congressperson about diabetes:

1. Be flexible with your appointment time.

I made this appointment to visit with him while he was back in the district back in March. It was changed about four times, as my representative had a limited time in the district this summer during break. I didn’t care. I wanted to meet with him and would have rearranged my schedule four more times to ensure we could meet. And once I was there, I waited. Just like a medical appointment. Just like waiting for a medical appointment, it was worth waiting for.

You might think it’s easier to get an appointment in DC, but in many cases, it’s not. It’s much easier to schedule a meeting when they are in their own districts. (And it’s cheaper for you, too!)

paper-pile-1238396-639x8502. Don’t show up unprepared.

You need to know what the bills numbers are, what they are asking to do, who the original sponsor is, and if you can, the financial impact of the bill on the U.S. public. Print the pertinent information out to give to the rep and/or staff person. It doesn’t have to be pretty; it just has to be accurate.(But don’t print out a ream of paper. It won’t get read. Give them all a few pages of the top info at most.)

I also printed out brief information regarding continuous glucose monitoring and the CGM Medicare Act of 2015, along with a list of his peers in our state and whether they had cosponsored any of the current bills on diabetes, and topped it off with the number of people in our state with diabetes, compared to the rest of the country. 

You are there to share why the congressperson should support this issue. Why usually includes a personal story – you, a family member, a friend… but keep it short. Very short. No life stories that take a year to tell. Practice or write down your short personal story and how it’s relevant to what you’re asking your congressperson to do.

3. Your congressperson has a staff. They are just as important as your congressperson.

While I wanted to speak directly with the congressman, I also knew that best laid plans don’t always happen. More importantly, the staff your congressperson has? Brilliant. They are the ones to advise, assist, and get a lot of the hard work in Congress done. They may look young, but they have the congressperson’s ear (and they are brilliant…). Be nice to staff. Super nice. Not only is it just polite, but they are the ones that can help you get your points about diabetes across.

4. Dilly dally and you lose. Get to the point.

Thank your congressperson and staff for their time right out of the gate. Then don’t waste a minute of it. 

Begin with your name and the bill (or two bills) that you want to talk about. (Don’t try to shove ALL the bills about diabetes into a meeting. You can’t cover all of them at once and you’re less likely to get a cosponsor for all of them.) Have the written information readily available. Some people like to look at the information as you go, while sometimes the staff take notes on the info you give.

Then give your quick personal story and how the passage of this particular bill will help people of diabetes. Answer any question that might come up about diabetes. Most people aren’t experts on diabetes. Even the simplest questions will help with their decisions to co-sponsor.

This meeting, I focused on two bills that I wanted my congressman to co-sponsor: the CGM Medicare Act of 2015 and the National Diabetes Clinical Care Commission Act. Why these two?

I won’t be eligible for Medicare for a long while, but the CGM Medicare bill is important to me because it will help make it easier for artificial pancreas technology to be covered (and because I have friends who NEED this bill because they are on Medicare and they have Type 1).

And 37 federal agencies trying to work together on diabetes issues isn’t an efficient way to work; the National Diabetes Clinical Care Commission Act will get them to communicate…

My meeting lasted less than ten minutes. He had others waiting (including one woman who came in with, I’m not kidding, two binders weighing five pounds each. Uh-oh.) and I had gotten my points across.

5. Thank them.

Send an email or a letter after your meeting, letting the staff and the congressperson know that you appreciated the meeting and the opportunity to share your thoughts.

Ask them once again to consider co-sponsoring the bill(s) and provide them with the bill number and the title of the bill (remember… 6,000 bills and resolutions each year!).

What happened after my meeting?

My congressman’s staff person sent me a quick email later that day, telling me that the he was cosponsoring both bills. The high that I felt was not from my blood sugars.

We’ve got a lot of Congress that needs to know about these bills and why they’re important to all of us. Some understand and some just don’t know. Congress represents the U.S. population – and 29 million of us have diabetes. We need them to understand that we need your help.

Where can you start if you want to meet your representative to talk about diabetes?

Do you know who your representatives for Congress are? Easy to find out…

Diabetes Patient Advocacy Coalition can help by inputting your zip code. (And if you haven’t sent an email to your rep, now’s the perfect time!)

Once you’ve got the names of your representatives, you can go to their websites and find out how to set a meeting. Sometimes you can call the office and sometimes you can send a meeting request via Internet.

I recommend that you arrange to have a meeting when the rep is home in the district, rather than DC.

I’d love to hear from you and your experiences on meeting with your representatives about diabetes. What questions did they have for you? Did they cosponsor? If they didn’t… what was the reason they gave?