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TORONTO, ON (February 22, 2023) – Too many people living with diabetes in Canada are paying increasing costs for prescribed medications, devices, or supplies, according to Diabetes Canada’s new report on diabetes-related out-of-pocket costs.

Living with diabetes in Canada continues to be marked by health inequity as out-of-pocket costs are especially acute for lower income groups and people affected by type 2 diabetes, which we know also disproportionately impacts people of African, Arab, Asian, Hispanic, Indigenous or South Asian descent.

While government support is highest for low-income groups, the proportion of family income required to cover costs is also the highest for these groups.

Costs associated with managing type 2 diabetes

  •  In certain parts of Canada, out-of-pocket costs can be as high as $10,014 per year for people with type 2 diabetes.
  • Costs as a share of family income are highest in Ontario where they can account for 17% of income for adults with a family income of $30,000, and who use oral medications that help manage blood glucose, insulin, multiple AHT medications, and real-time continuous glucose monitoring.

“Close monitoring and following healthy eating are essential for people living with type 2 diabetes, but other financial obligations can impact this,” says Donna Graham, an advocate and person who lives with type 2 diabetes. “This creates many complications to your wellness and long-term health. Due to increased inflation, prioritizing the basics of housing, food and utilities becomes the priority.  Out-of-pocket diabetes costs are often impossible.”

Costs associated with managing type 1 diabetes

  • In certain parts of Canada, out-of-pocket costs can be as high as $18,306 per year for people with type 1 diabetes.
  • Over half of people living with type 1 diabetes either experience costs above 3% of their family income or, given other financial burdens and lack of resources, fail to adhere to the treatment recommended by their doctor.
  • Costs as a share of family income are highest in:
    • Prince Edward Island where they can account for up to 20% of income for adults and seniors with family income of $30,000 or more using an insulin pump and finger prick testing;
    • And Quebec for adults with income of $30,000 or more also using an insulin pump and finger prick testing.

“While many people my age are saving $10,000 for a down payment on a house, as a Manitoba resident who has never been eligible for publicly funded diabetes programs, I have been saving for a safe pregnancy, which includes a rtCGM and insulin pump,” says Nikki Webb, an advocate and person living with type 1 diabetes.

“Far too many people living with diabetes in Canada are being forced to choose between managing their, or their child’s, chronic condition or putting food on the table or paying the rent,” says Laura Syron, President, and CEO of Diabetes Canada. “As the affordability crisis worsens in Canada and people struggle to afford basic needs, I fear we will begin to witness poorer health outcomes as people are simply unable to pay for the treatments prescribed by their health-care providers.”

To help address this affordability issue, Diabetes Canada continues to urge all governments to fund the Diabetes Framework, which was tabled in the House of Commons last October. “To not use some of the recently provided increase in health-care funding to combat this growing epidemic would be irresponsible,” says Syron.

About Diabetes Canada

A world free of the effects of diabetes is our vision. That’s why we’re working together to improve the quality of life of people living with diabetes. We’re sharing knowledge and creating connections for individuals and the health-care professionals who care for them; advocating through public policy; and funding research to improve treatments and find a cure to end diabetes.   

Category Tags: Advocacy & Policy, Announcements, Health-care;

Region: National

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