Diabetes: resources for PWD without insurance

Many PWDs are fortunate enough to have some form of health insurance. For those that don’t, care can be a challenge. Where do you turn to get the supplies to live? This community collectively has an enormous wealth of knowledge that someone, somewhere needs, so please add any relevant information possible.

The following is not an exhaustive list of resources, but merely a starting place for those in need who

  • Don’t have a healthcare plan, or their Healthplan has poor coverage
  • Can’t afford the co-pay for office visits or prescriptions or both
  • Are in between insurances and are trying to get by until the new insurance starts


Healthcare resources can be found at the local/state/federal level and vary in cost from free to negligible based on income.

  • On the Federal level, a list of local free/low cost clinics can be found here https://www.healthcare.gov/community-health-centers/
  • Visit your local Diabetes society, as they frequently have free healthcare workshops for PWDs that have severe financial issues
  • If you belong to a religious group, seek aid from your local religious leader, as many of them have contacts in the community to help their followers in time of need
  • Speak with your current Dr and try to negotiate a cash price. Most Drs are willing to donate services Pro Bono to provide continuity of care short term. Many Drs are also willing to do email consultations for those in between insurances.

Medication including Insulin

  • If you have a Dr currently, explain your financial situation and either ask for generic medications (if possible) or for any available samples of non-generics. Most D-Drs have a supply from the various drug manufacturers for this purpose in my experience.
  • Negotiate a cash price for your Rx with your local non-chain pharmacist. Many generics actually cost less than $10/monthly for a cash purchase.
  • Have your Rx filled at a low/no cost clinic when seeing the Dr. The cost will be sliding scale based.
  • If on Insulin, consider switching to R (Regular) and/or NPH until you are able to afford Analog insulins such as Humalog, Novolog, Lantus, or similar again. Both R (Regular) and NPH are available at Walmart for $24.95/10ml vial with no Rx needed in the US except for in Alaska, though I have recently heard that Alaskan Walmarts might actually be selling R & NPH w/o an Rx. If you do switch to R or NPH make sure you research their durations/spikes/ and how they stack before using. They are not forgiving like many newer insulins. Pumpers will need to adjust most if not all of their pump settings. Be advised to no current US pump manufacturer recommends R with their pumps.


Glucose Meters

  • Everyone has their favorite. When cash strapped I look for the nexus of Price and Affordability. In no specific order, Walmart Prime ($19/Meter, 9/100 strips aka .09/strip everyday), Contour Next (~$8/Meter on Amazon, avg ~26/100 strips aka .26/strip, can be as low as $.23/strip in bulk) OneDrop ($99/meter, $34/unlimited strips), MySugar ($40/month includes meter and unlimited strips)
  • Strips with a short shelf life, designed for use in another country, or are being resold can be found on EBay. There are some deals to be had, but buyer beware.
    Financial Assistance Plans
  • Check the manufacturers website for Co-Pay cards or financial assistance plans. Almost every manufacturer of D-medications or supplies has this. I use co-pay cards on almost every medication I use to help offset my Insurance costs.

Syringes/Pen Needles

  • U100 Syringes Amazon ($13/100 syringes, some with free shipping) or Walmart ($13/100 syringes but may have local restrictions on quantity or need an Rx). I have not had good luck in the past with EBay in this category

There are several sources on the internet for Insulin RX and Syringe Rx requirements by state. Islets of Hope and ChildrenWithDiabetes has always been very accurate IMHO. It is listed here for your reference only. Insulin RX by State


Every PWD knows that food and exercise affect our BGs. The cheapest food in the store is generally the worst for us. Food banks and other charity organizations can help with this. Ask for fewer starches and more veggies, even frozen veggies. The goal is to get by on the least possible insulin until either Health insurance starts or you have a financial reversal. Ask for help. Sometimes it painful and embarrassing but do what you must. You have to do whatever it takes to survive, and you definitely can do it.

End of wiki ---------- comments start here


I really appreciate you posting this!!! I was hoping you would! Lots of content to read through. It’s nice to have a basic idea of some of the resources available in case I ever need them :slight_smile:

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@Katers87 Its a place to start…hopefully some of the other members can help fill in additional resources. The list is based on my experiences over many years of no/not so great insurance


@elver Thank you for putting together this list of advice and resources. This represents one of the greatest values of the DOC. And I hope our members never forget the generosity of people on this forum.

This type of listing is more important now than ever. Only six or seven years ago I was without insurance, but as box of Novolog penfills was less than $100, Lantus was about $80/vial. Even Dexcom sensors were only about $240/four pack. Today the uninsured price for these items is in some cases 6-7 times what they were just a few years ago.

It’s not easy being a PWD without insurance these days. But if you are a PWD on this forum you should know that you’ll never be alone.


Good info!

I use Novolog and the Novo “CornerStone4Care” thing does help cut down on costs, at least for a while until the benefits expire. Make sure to sign up before buying insulin, you can’t apply the coupon code retroactively (even though my pharmacy tech said you could).

There are places to get donations too, like the Pay It Forward groups.

I thought Walmart insulin didn’t need a Rx in Alaska, the next time I am in a Walmart I will check.

Here is a resource that may help.


Thank you @Bradford! What a great resource :slight_smile:

A little Canadian content:


@Beacher That is a great link! I wish I could find something similar in the US.

A few additions:

Insurance through the ACA
For people in the United States, getting heath insurance is supposed to be made more affordable (and is required by) the Affordable Care Act (ACA/“Obamacare”). In my experience in California, getting coverage is relatively easy, and the government will give you a very large subsidy if you have a smaller income. Of course, that’s probably going to change for 2019 since the almost every elected member of the Republican party is hell-bent on shutting down the ACA.

Last year, I had a Kaiser Permanente plan through the ACA. Some of the prescriptions were pretty cheap — I got a meter and a year’s worth of strips for my $70 co-pay. (I had a high-deductible plan, which is the cheapest overall plan to get if you’re paying the premiums, especially when paired with a health savings account (HSA)). Other prescriptions were not cheap — they would only prescribe the bare minimum insulin needed, so I had to pay $70 a month for that.

If you’re interested in getting an ACA plan, open enrollment for 2018 ends on Jan 31, 2018 (at least in California; it’s probably earlier in many other states). If you don’t understand all the ins and outs of the ACA, a certified enroller can help you navigate the system for free. (The government pays them for enrolling you; it doesn’t increase your costs.) It’s possible that this enroller system is only available in California; I’m not sure.

Insurance through the state or city
California has Medi-Cal. I don’t know much about it other than what’s on Wikipedia.

The city of San Francisco has its own free health plan for city residents.

Other states and cities may have similar things. If all else fails, move to California :slight_smile:

Discount prescriptions
I’ve had good luck with GoodRx. They let you self-pay for prescriptions at the same negotiated discount prices that health insurance pays.

Self-pay discounts
My dentist gives a 20% discount for people without dental insurance. My endo is at UCSF, which gives a 40% self-pay discount.

If you are having trouble affording healthy food in the United States, there is a federal program called supplemental nutritional access program (SNAP), colloquially called “food stamps” (it’s really a debit card, not stamps).

Each state has their own program. In California, it’s run by individual counties, but you can apply on the awesome GetCalFresh site which radically simplifies the application process. If you are in dire straits, you can get cash for food within 24 hours; otherwise it takes a little longer. There are a lot of hoops to jump through but the result is cash in your hand to buy food with. You should never feel bad about taking this money — I know some people who work very very hard to get food stamps to as many people as possible, and they’d be much happier if you took the money they are trying so hard to give out.


WOW! @ned that information will definitely be useful!

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@Ned, I missed your post here last week: that it outstanding. Thanks so much!

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I want to add my vote to everyone else: @elver, @ned, these are great resources.


Excellent post. I’m putting it up in my group in case anyone can use it or wants to add to it. Thank you for taking the time to put it together!

Most welcome

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I agree, regular insulin from Walmart is a good idea.

For more expensive newer insulins like humalog, novolog, tresiba, etc:. These may be ordered from Canada for about $50 to 70 per vial (pens also available).


@mike_g Great point. We have addressed Canadian sources for insulin on several threads, this one
by @Michel giving some specifics.

Or just do a search for “Canadian Insulin” (magnifying glass upper right)


And if you are close to the border with Canada, insulin can be purchased without a prescription at those prices. If you are planning to purchase a large amount, please call ahead so the pharmacy can order what you want.

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@elver, this was such a great post: I made it a wiki and linked the TOC to it!

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@Michel I saw, thanks for making the changes and including it. Sadly the info is somewhat dated at this point, but possibly it can be a semi-current work in progress.

I asked once before and to follow up on your response, If FUD ever wants/needs financial contributions I would like to be part of that.

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