Financial Help for Diabetes Care
Medicaid, also called Medical Assistance, is a joint federal and state government program that helps pay medical costs for some people with limited income and resources. Medicaid programs and income limits for Medicaid vary from state to state. The State Medical Assistance (Medicaid) office can help people find out whether they qualify for Medicaid or provide more information about Medicaid programs. To contact a state Medicaid office, people can
State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP)
SCHIP is a federal and state government partnership to expand health coverage to uninsured children from families with income that is too low to afford private or employer-sponsored health insurance but too high to qualify for Medicaid. The free or low-cost coverage is available to eligible children younger than 19.
SCHIP provides an extensive package of benefits including doctor visits, hospital care, and more. Information about the program is available at www.insurekidsnow.gov or by calling 1–877–KIDS-NOW (1–877–543–7669). Callers to the toll-free, confidential hotline are automatically connected to their state’s program.
Health Insurance for Those Not Eligible for Medicare or Medicaid
People who are not eligible for Medicare or Medicaid may be able to purchase private health insurance. Many insurers consider diabetes that has already been diagnosed a pre-existing condition, so finding coverage may be difficult for people with diabetes. Insurance companies often have a specific waiting period during which they do not cover diabetes-related expenses for new enrollees, although they will cover other medical expenses that arise during this time.
Certain state and federal laws may help. Many states now require insurance companies to cover diabetes supplies and education. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), passed by Congress in 1996, limits insurance companies from denying coverage because of a pre-existing condition. Information about HIPAA is available at www.dol.gov/dol/topic/health-plans/portability.htm.
More information about these laws is available from each state’s insurance regulatory office. Some state offices may be called the state insurance department or commission. This office can also help identify an insurance company that offers individual coverage. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners’ website, www.naic.org/state_web_map.htm, provides a membership list with contact information and a link to the website for each state’s insurance regulatory office.
The Georgetown University Health Policy Institute offers consumer guides on health insurance topics, including guides for each state about getting and keeping health insurance. The guides are available at www.healthinsuranceinfo.net.
Health Insurance after Leaving a Job
When leaving a job, a person may be able to continue the group health insurance provided by the employer for up to 18 months under a federal law called the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act, or COBRA. People pay more for group health insurance through COBRA than they did as employees, but group coverage is cheaper than individual coverage. People who have a disability before becoming eligible for COBRA or who are determined by the Social Security Administration to be disabled within the first 60 days of COBRA coverage may be able to extend COBRA coverage an additional 11 months, for up to 29 months of coverage. COBRA may also cover young people who were insured under a parent’s policy but have reached the age limit and are trying to obtain their own insurance.
More information is available by calling the U.S. Department of Labor at 1-866-4-USA-DOL (1-866-487-2365) or visiting www.dol.gov/dol/topic/health-plans/cobra.htm.
If a person doesn’t qualify for coverage or if COBRA coverage has expired, other options may be available:
Each state insurance regulatory office can provide more information about these and other options. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners’ website, www.naic.org/state_web_map.htm, provides a membership list with contact information and a link to the website for each state’s insurance regulatory office. Information about consumer health plans is also available at the U.S. Department of Labor’s website at www.dol.gov/dol/topic/health-plans/consumerinfhealth.htm.
Health Care Services
The Bureau of Primary Health Care, a service of the Health Resources and Services Administration, offers primary and preventive health care to medically underserved populations through community health centers. For people with no insurance, fees for care are based on family size and income. Information about local health centers is available by calling 1–888–ASK–HRSA (1–888–275–4772) and asking for a directory, or by visiting the Bureau’s website at www.bphc.hrsa.gov.
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) runs hospitals and clinics that serve veterans who have service-related health problems or who simply need financial aid. Veterans who would like to find out more about VA health care can call 1–800–827–1000 or visit www1.va.gov/health.
Many local governments have public health departments that can help people who need medical care. The local county or city government’s health and human services offi ce can provide further information.
People who are uninsured and need hospital care may be able to get help from a program known as the Hill-Burton Act. Although the program originally provided hospitals with federal grants for modernization, today it provides free or reduced-fee medical services to people with low incomes. The Department of Health and Human Services administers the program. More information is available by calling 1–800–638–0742 (1–800–492–0359 in Maryland) or visiting www.hrsa.gov/hillburton.
Kidney Disease: Resources for Dialysis and Transplantation
Kidney failure, also called end-stage renal disease, is a complication of diabetes. People of any age with kidney failure can get Medicare Part A-hospital insurance-if they meet certain criteria. To qualify for Medicare on the basis of kidney failure, a person must
People with Medicare Part A can also get Medicare Part B. Enrolling in Part B is optional. However, a person needs to have both Part A and Part B for Medicare to cover certain dialysis and kidney transplant services.
Those who don’t qualify for Medicare may be able to get help from their state to pay for their dialysis treatments. More information about dialysis and transplantation is available by
Information about financing an organ transplant is available from the following organization:
United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS)
Prescription Drugs and Medical Supplies
Health care providers may be able to assist people who need help paying for their medicines and supplies by directing them to local programs or even providing free samples.
A free nylon filament—similar to a bristle on a hairbrush—is available to check feet for nerve damage. The filament, with instructions for use, can be obtained by calling 1–888–ASK–HRSA (1–888–275–4772) or by accessing www.hrsa.gov/leap.
Prescription drug coverage for those eligible for Medicare is available through Medicare’s Prescription Drug Plans and many Medicare Advantage Plans. More information is available at the Medicare website at www.medicare.gov.
Drug companies that sell insulin or diabetes medications usually have patient assistance programs. Such programs are available only through a physician. The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America and its member companies sponsor an interactive website with information about drug assistance programs at www.PPARx.org.
Also, because programs for the homeless sometimes provide aid, people can contact a local shelter for more information about how to obtain free medications and medical supplies. The number of the nearest shelter may be listed in the phone book under Human Service Organizations or Social Service Organizations.
People who have had an amputation may be concerned about paying their rehabilitation expenses. The following organizations provide financial assistance or information about locating financial resources for people who need prosthetic care:
Amputee Coalition of America
Public agencies and other organizations that provide services and assistance, such as providing special equipment, to children with diabetes and other disabilities and to their families are listed on the State Resource Sheets published by the National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities (NICHCY). Each state’s resource sheet lists the names and addresses of agencies in the state. The free resource sheets are available at www.nichcy.org/states.htm
College-aged students who have diabetes-related disabilities may be faced not only with the costs of tuition, but also with additional expenses generally not incurred by other students. These costs may include special equipment and disability-related medical expenses not covered by insurance. Some special equipment and support services may be available at the educational institution, through community organizations, through the state vocational rehabilitation agency, or through specific disability organizations. The names and addresses of these and other agencies are also listed in the State Resource Sheets available from the NICHCY.
The HEATH Resource Center, an online clearinghouse on postsecondary education for individuals with disabilities, offers information about sources of financial aid and the education of students with a disability. Contact the clearinghouse at
Assistive technology, which can help people with disabilities function more effectively at home, at work, and in the community, can include computers, adaptive equipment, wheelchairs, bathroom modifications, and medical or corrective services. The following organizations provide information, awareness, and training in the use of technology to aid people with disabilities:
Alliance for Technology Access (ATA)
United Cerebral Palsy (UCP)
Food and Nutrition Assistance for Women with Diabetes or Gestational Diabetes
Food, nutrition education, and access to health care services are available through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program. The WIC program provides assistance to women during pregnancy or the period following childbirth and to infants and children up to age 5. Applicants must meet residential, financial need, and nutrition risk criteria to be eligible for assistance. Having diabetes or gestational diabetes is considered a medically based nutrition risk and would qualify a woman for assistance through the WIC program if she meets the financial need requirements and has lived in a particular state the required amount of time. The WIC website provides a page of contact information for each state and Indian tribe Contact the WIC’s national headquarters at
Supplemental Food Programs Division
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Benefits
The Social Security Administration pays disability benefits through the SSDI and SSI programs. These benefits are not the same as Social Security benefits. To receive SSDI benefits, a person must be unable to work and must have earned the required number of work credits. SSI is a monthly amount paid to people with limited income and resources who are disabled, blind, or age 65 or older and meet certain other conditions.
More information is available by calling Social Security at 1-800-772-1213 or contacting the local Social Security office for more information. TTY users should call 1-800-325-0778. A “Benefit Eligibility Screening Tool” is available at www.benefits.gov/ssa to check whether a person is eligible for benefits.
Local resources such as the following charitable groups may offer financial help for some of the many expenses related to diabetes:
In many areas, nonprofit or special-interest groups such as those listed above can sometimes provide financial assistance or help with fundraising. Religious organizations also may offer assistance. In addition, some local governments may have special trusts set up to help people in need. The local library or local city or county government’s health and human services office may provide more information about such groups.
Publications produced by the Clearinghouse are carefully reviewed by both NIDDK scientists and outside experts. The Medicare information in this publication was reviewed by subject matter experts at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.
You may also find additional information about this topic by visiting MedlinePlus at www.medlineplus.gov.
This publication may contain information about medications. When prepared, this publication included the most current information available. For updates or for questions about any medications, contact the U.S. Food and Drug Administration toll-free at 1-888-INFO-FDA (1–888–463–6332) or visit www.fda.gov. Consult your health care provider for more information.
National Diabetes Education Program
The National Diabetes Education Program is a federally funded program sponsored by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and includes over 200 partners at the federal, state, and local levels, working together to reduce the morbidity and mortality associated with diabetes.
National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse
The National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse (NDIC) is a service of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK). The NIDDK is part of the National Institutes of Health of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Established in 1978, the Clearinghouse provides information about diabetes to people with diabetes and to their families, health care professionals, and the public. The NDIC answers inquiries, develops and distributes publications, and works closely with professional and patient organizations and Government agencies to coordinate resources about diabetes.
This publication is not copyrighted. The Clearinghouse encourages users of this publication to duplicate and distribute as many copies as desired.
NIH Publication No. 09-4638