How much is your diabetes supplies rainy day fund?
Diabetes is a chronic life long disease and until a cure is found it will always be with me through all all of life’s fluctuations.
The majority of instances, that will have direct impact on how one manages their diabetes effectively includes but not limited to.
1. Job Loss
2. Loss of Medical Benefits
3. a non-associated Debilitating Injury
4. Extended vacation.
5. Or The proverbial apocalypse.
When the above happens, it would be prudent to have at least a stock pile of diabetes supplies to cover the gap until it gets better.
This is one instant where hoarding is essentially not only a good thing but a necessity.
Going down this path however does raise a few questions that need to be addressed for the plan to be effective.
1. Are any of my diabetes supplies governed by the prescription drug limiting laws?
Just as the question states, there are laws enacted to govern prescription drug coverage and how much can be dispensed at once. This laws are meant to restrict the distribution and subsequent black market sale of narcotic and other opiate prescription drugs. We would want to know if any of our diabetes drugs and supplies fall under this category as that would put a cog in our plan.
Of the diabetes related drugs and supplies that I need, Insulin happens to be the only source of concern and I was happy to see that Insulin is not restricted in any way In fact there are some instances where one can acquire Insulin over the counter without a need for a prescription.
2. Financial Resources: It all comes down to money
The biggest challenge to my plan is obviously financial resources. If I had the money, it would hardly be a problem walking down to the local pharmacy and demanding my truck full of diabetes supplies. But since I am not as financially blessed yet, I would have to revise a plan that would give me what I need.
With Medical coverage Including the Insurance premiums expect to pay in the upper three figures for monthly supplies, that figure more than doubles to the mid to upper four figures in out of pocket expenses without Insurance.
3. What is the shelf life of most diabetes supplies both open and unopened?
This question is important because, I do not want to stockpile my supplies only to find out that they are dangerously close or expired at the end of the exercise. Obviously The mechanical components, pump, syringes, infusion sets, glucose meters,lancets do not expire and require just the proverbial regular maintenance.
The glucose test strip exception: Test strips do expire but that doesn’t necessarily mean that as soon as the expiration date is hit, they will immediately degrade. In most cases the expiration date is inserted by manufacturers to point at a time when they can reliably predict 100% accuracy of their product. Because test strips use chemicals in the testing process to bind blood cells, the issue of degradation is of some concern.
A test strip stability test by the ADA a few years ago concluded that there is little degradation of functionality after 20 weeks for a closed bottle or 96 hours for an open bottle of test strips,(they tested strips from 4 major manufacturers) exposed to normal average range of temperature.
Given the right conditions, i.e. a cool dry storage location, the closed bottle of test strips should be able to last for quite some time.
In the video below courtesy of Julie, Nikki and Patrick from pump wear, you can see test strips functioning accurately up to three years past their printed expiration date.
As caution before using the expired test strips compare their functionality by testing with a current bottle first and then comparing the results before using them.
As for Insulin:
Insulin is a natural occurring hormone which means that once exposed to light and air, it begins to degrade. Most recommendations are to discard any opened Insulin after 30 days of use as the potency would be highly degraded after that time. Do not store an open Insulin bottle in direct heat or sun light as that will cause it to degrade faster.
For the unopened Insulin bottle, Optimal storage temperature is 36-46 degrees F. It can be optimally stored in a refrigerator but never Frozen. In this state, the degradation is much slower and thus it can be stored for quite some time.
My current bottle of Novolog has an expiration date of June 2014.
A few tips to get you started
1. Most common Prescriptions predominately cover 30 days worth of diabetes medications and supplies but you can request for a 90 day prescription. The main aim of getting a 90 day script is to save you money with the copay which usually stays the same.
2. The second added advantage of a 90 day script is that once in a while I will say that a mishap happened and I lost my prescription and I get an extra set of medication or supplies for just the cost of the co-pay. Obviously you cant claim a mishap every time because logically it wont work but an extra set of 90 days worth of supplies could get you going.
3. I am by no means advocating something as extreme as splitting your medication in half. I know some including myself who have done this in the past due to financial reasons but if you are using multiple daily Injections for example, there is no harm in reusing your syringes instead of chucking them every time or using the lancets till they go blunt or if the recommended range of the CGMS sensor is 12-14 days, then using it for 14 instead of 12 days. It all adds up however little each step might look.
4. Shop around for the best deals on your diabetes supplies. Consider online medical supply companies, or discount wholesale clubs they are usually cheaper than their brick and mortar counterparts
You are welcome to share any more of your tips on the hoarding diabetes supplies endeavor in the comment and for those starting good luck.
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