Ohio Experts Say Affordable Insulin, Better Clinic Experience Could Improve Diabetes Care

One in five adults with diabets ration their insulin

click to enlarge More than 37 million Americans (about 1 in 10 people) live with diabetes, according to the CDC. - (Adobe Stock)
(Adobe Stock)
More than 37 million Americans (about 1 in 10 people) live with diabetes, according to the CDC.

November is National Diabetes Month, and one in five people in Appalachian Ohio lives with diabetes.

Despite increasing prevalence, providers in the region say many of their patients believe their type 2 diabetes was inevitable and they were helpless to prevent it.

Behavioral diabetes researcher and Co-Director of the Diabetes Institute at Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine Dr. Elizabeth Beverly explained people with diabetes are more likely to experience depression, anxiety, or develop certain eating disorders.

"And it's really important that we are aware of that, and that when people with diabetes are experiencing depressive symptoms or anxiety, that they do seek help for that," said Beverly. "And that providers are aware of this so that they can screen their patients for this and provide the necessary referrals."

Staying active, avoiding smoking and alcohol, controlling blood pressure, and maintaining a healthy, vegetable-heavy diet are all ways to keep the disease - and related complications - in check.

Assistant Professor in the Department of Primary Care at the Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine Dr. Allyson Hughes said more work needs to be done when it comes to improving patients' experience at the clinic and addressing health equity for people living with chronic conditions.

"I've heard things like, you know, 'My doctor doesn't understand me,'" said Hughes. "I've heard things like, you know, 'I wish I could use a certain type of medication, but I can't afford it.' Or, 'My family doesn't support me using that medication.' There's all kinds of stories out there."

Dr. Nicole Brady - chief medical officer with United Healthcare - explained that every day more than seven million Americans with diabetes rely on insulin to manage their blood sugar levels.

The average price of the medication has doubled over the past decade.

She said that beginning in January, UnitedHealthcare eligible commercial members will pay $0 out-of-pocket for insulin.

"So we're really, really hoping," said Brady, "that eliminating the out-of-pocket expense for insulin helps reduce that burden of paying for that insulin and that cost and financial burden and that people will be able to be better adherent to their medications and take them more regularly."

A study released last month found that 1 in 5 adults with diabetes are rationing their insulin to save money.
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