Part of my job as a dietitian and diabetes educator is to call people on the phone and convince them that they need to follow their physician’s order and receive diabetes instruction. Few people realize that the medications that are ordered are designed to complement a diabetic lifestyle.

Fear, denial, frustration, and just not knowing anything different keep people from being healthy and seeking education. Another deterrent to living a healthier life with diabetes is cost.

Most diabetes self-management instruction sessions cost less than $1,000 before insurance coverage. In these classes, diabetes is defined. Monitoring, meal planning, stress management and methods to avoid complications are taught.

Many people explain to me that they just cannot afford to pay for diabetes instruction. I can empathize with financial difficulties. In this instance, the hospital’s financial advisors are recommended and I encourage my clients to call and discuss the ability to pay. Usually a payment plan and often discounts are arranged.

The total cost of diagnosed diabetes in the U.S. in 2017 was $327 billion. Care for people with diabetes accounted for 1 in 4 health dollars in our country. More than half of that expenditure was directly due to diabetes.

These costs will continue to increase. There has been a more than 25 percent increase in the costs of diabetes from 2012 to 2017 that is in 5 years, due to the increased prevalence and cost per person with diabetes.

Many health providers do not recommend diabetes education to their patients. Physicians who do recommend learning more about this diagnosis report a refusal from the patient. Most of my patients report that they had to specifically request instruction.

The medications that are ordered work better with a lifestyle that promotes improved blood sugars. Many patients choose to rely only on a pill or shot to control their blood glucose and this can often lead to serious complications.

Getting back to costs. The average cost of a heart attack in the U.S. is between $80,000 to $100,000. Heart disease is the number one cause of death with diabetes. If a series of classes costing approximately $1,000 can help to prevent cardiac complications aren’t the diabetes training sessions cost effective?

We are all going to die; there is no way out of that fact. The quality of life prior to that fateful reality can be altered. The person with diabetes is in control of what occurs between the day they learn of the diagnosis and their last breath. Education can make a difference.

One person that I called told me that his sister-in-law was a nurse and she was going to tell him everything he needed to know about diabetes. I had to stifle a laugh. What are the chances that she was going to teach him up-to-date information? What makes me believe that he would even listen to his sister-in-law?

Quoting Nelson Mandela, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” Change your world today by learning more about diabetes.


Bobbie Randall

Contributing columnist

Bobbie Randall is a certified diabetes educator, registered, licensed dietitian. She supervises a Diabetes Self-Management Training Program at Dunlap Community Hospital, Orrville, Ohio. Contact her at [email protected].