It’s a numbers game anyway.

I was looking at the Baseball Hall of Fame voting from yesterday, and immediately my analytical mind starting crunching the numbers… baseball is a game loved by statisticians, anyway… Since blank ballots submitted count against players being considered, how would the voting change if those blank ballots were not submitted (then they wouldn’t count against the player)? How many more votes do Jack Morris and Craig Biggio need next year to crack the 75 percent threshold for enshrinement?

Then, since my mind has been on D overload the past several months, I started thinking about numbers and how they relate to diabetes. We all know that numbers are important. Hemoglobin A1c, meter readings, carb/insulin ratios, the whole bit.

But let’s look at some of the other stuff for a moment. I was diagnosed nearly 22 years ago. That’s a fair amount of time, and to the best of my calculation (these are approximations only), here are some overall numbers. I’m going with very conservative counts, so the amount of stuff used and the cost of everything is likely higher than this.

– I didn’t always do a great job of checking my blood glucose. So if I calculate only 2.5 times testing on average, per day, for 8,016 days since diagnosis, that’s 20,040 BG checks. At even 50 cents per strip (which is a very conservative number), that’s $10,020 spent on test strips alone.

– I was on multiple daily injections until almost 3 years ago. For most of that, I was on two injections per day. Then I was on one per day (Lantus) for a couple of years, then Lantus plus a bolus fast-acting insulin before each meal and snack. So again, let’s go with 2.5 per day as an average, for 19 years. That’s 17,350 injections! It’s hard to gauge the amount I spent on syringes, but I’ll try: 17,350 injections divided by 100 syringes in a box equals almost 174 boxes. The average cost per 100-count box is probably in the $24.00 per box range (a quick online check reveals it’s about $30.00 a box now). I’m counting the full price here because my various insurance coverages over the years mostly required me to pay 100 percent for them. So 174 boxes at $24.00 per box equals $4,176 spent on syringes.

– I can’t even begin to guess how much insulin I’ve used over the years, so I won’t even try here. But it’s a lot. And there’s no such thing as generic insulin in the U.S., so the cost is probably a lot. Though most of the cost has been covered through prescription plans. So let’s do it this way: My mail-order pharmacy dispenses 90 day supplies of insulin at an average cost to me over the last 22 years of $50.00 per 90 days. That’s 88 quarters of insulin at $50.00 per quarter, which comes to $4,400 dollars worth of life-giving juice.

– I’ve been on pump therapy for almost three years now. I’ve got a pretty good medical insurance plan at work, so the initial start-up cost for my MiniMed Paradigm® Revel™ pump was right around $500. The durable medical supplies portion of my plan helps me pay for infusion sets and reservoirs every 90 days, and my cost is about $90 per quarter. It’s been about 11 quarters since I started on the pump, so at that rate I’m at $990 for infusion sets and reservoirs and other incidentals (the inserter, IV prep, etc). I’m including the cost for the CGM that goes with my pump, even though I don’t use it all the time.

Total cost of everything above: $20,086

That’s just the big stuff. I could go on and on about doctor visits every 90 days, cost going to and fro seeing doctors and specialists and gathering stuff that I need, and that ill-timed emergency room visit in Dayton, Ohio a couple of years back.

What does all of this make you think about? How much everything costs over time? How about diabetes burnout? Does it make you want to do some number crunching of your own? Is there something I’ve left out? Feel free to add to the conversation by leaving a comment below.

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  • Scott E  On January 10, 2013 at 3:03 pm

    The numbers can be staggering. At some point, I tried to figure out what it would cost me to live with diabetes – with my current regimen – if I had no insurance, and I think I came up with somewhere between $10,000 and $20,000 per year. In fairness, I had included doctors appointments and lab work. Even a couple of emergency-room visits thrown in for good measure, because you never know…

    I think the fact that it is so hard to even figure out the costs is testament to just how much inequity there is in pricing altogether; from one retailer to another, one “negotiated” insurance-rate to another, or one product to another so-called “equivalent”. Thanks for this reminder!


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