Managing diabetes can be hard for anyone. But living with diabetes presents an especially serious challenge to people living with economic insecurity, as a study published in JAMA Internal Medicine concludes. Managing diabetes when you are not sure how to pay for your food or medication can be not only difficult but dangerous, leading to diabetes complications that could otherwise have been avoided.
"Healthcare systems are increasingly accountable for health outcomes that have roots outside of clinical care," the researchers wrote in a statement. "Because of this development, strategies that increase access to healthcare resources might reasonably be coupled with those that address social determinants of health, including material need insecurities. In particular, food insecurity and cost-related medication underuse may be promising targets for real-world management of diabetes mellitus."
Study identifies barriers
People who faced difficulty paying for food or medicine had higher rates of poor diabetes management, which includes high blood sugar, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure. These states have serious consequences, but they can be hard to avoid for people who struggle to provide themselves with food or necessary medications.
The study found the more economic insecurities a person with diabetes lived with, the more likely he or she would have poor diabetes management.
People who were unable to afford their medications visited the emergency room more often and experienced poor diabetes control, while those who had issues affording food tended to go to clinics more often but not the emergency room.
What if you are economically insecure?
If you qualify for Medicaid, you should apply—this can relieve the pressure of high medication costs. Other social services that may help people living with economic insecurity include food pantries and free or sliding-scale medical clinics.
If you have trouble affording the things you need to manage your diabetes well, talk with your doctor about what resources may be available to you. While it may be a difficult discussion to begin, there is no shame in wanting to manage your own health more effectively.