Edited by: Deborah Orlievsky, Writer/Editor
According to Diabetes Canada, an estimated 11 million Canadians are living with diabetes or prediabetes as of 2023. By 2026, this number is expected to climb to 14 million. This means that 3 million Canadians may require insulin at some point in life.
90% of Canadians with diabetes have type 2 diabetes. This condition is typically diagnosed later in life, whereas type 1 diabetes is found earlier in life.
In type 1 diabetes, the body does not produce enough insulin. In type 2 diabetes, the body produces too much insulin and cannot self-regulate.
Though some diabetics can take medications like Metformin to control diabetes, this is generally not the case for the majority of the patients who suffer from the disease. Whether it's type 1 diabetes or type 2 diabetes, both forms of the condition require insulin.
But, the insulin costs in Canada are more than the average person can afford. And, the costs continue to rise.
So, why are insulin costs rising? How much do patients have to pay right now? And, is there any hope for diabetes in the future?
How Much Does Insulin Cost in Canada?
As reported in 2019, insulin in Canada costs between $30 to $40 per vial. Unfortunately, this price is only rising. According to the pharmaceutical experts at 46Brooklyn, newer gathered data indicates that the cost of insulin per vial in Canada as of 2021 is $69.
In fact, the price of insulin in Canada has jumped more than 50% over the years.
Why Has the Cost of Insulin Increased in Canada Over the Last Few Years?
First, it's important to note the price relation to demand. Since there is a rising demand for insulin, it costs more. But, just like any other product, the demand-supply curve still applies.
The inflated figures of insulin are not limited to the Canadian borders. Many Americans hop the fence to in order to obtain insulin in Canada because the inflated prices are even more astronomical just to the south.
In the United States, the cost of one insulin vial is as high as $350. So, many diabetic patients come to Canada, furthering driving up the price as a side effect of increased demand.
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What Is the Monthly Cost of Insulin in Canada?
Most diabetics who use insulin use one to ten vials of insulin a month. Typically, individuals with type two diabetes use more.
Those with type 1 diabetes use 2 or 3 vials per month, while those with type 2 diabetes use 6 or more vials. But, this is just the average. Each patient has different needs depending on the severity of their condition.
Given that this is true, the cost of insulin per month can range from $30 a month to $735 a month.
But that's just the cost of insulin. When it comes to diabetes, you need a wide range of medical products. These include syringes, alcohol swabs, insulin pumps, glucose monitors, test strips, and more. With all these supplies, and the insulin, diabetes can cost an individual up to $1,500 a month in related-expenses.
Given the average prices for these items, the monthly costs for treating type 1 diabetes with insulin comes out to $279.65 per month, and for those being treated for type 2 diabetes, the monthly cost for insulin is projected at $735.52 a month.
Updated Diabetes Insights as of 2023
The World Health Organization (WHO) identifies diabetes as one of the major health challenges of this century.
The pandemic will lead to an even greater risk of diabetes over time. People with diabetes who contract Covid-19 are at risk for developing more diseases and/or health complications.
The Connection Between Stress and Diabetes
Alone, stress cannot cause diabetes. However, there are some scientific connections between stress and the risk of type two diabetes.
One study found that high levels of stress cause pancreatic cells to halt or slow insulin production. Since insulin is the bodily product that brings our blood glucose levels down, a lack of it can lead to high glucose levels. Thus, the body can develop type two diabetes.
Learning to control your stress can also help your body control stress hormones. Therefore, your stress hormones won't affect your glucose levels.
Stress and Diabetes on the Rise
Unfortunately, the connection between stress and diabetes is becoming critical. With rising stress levels among the Canadian population, we also see a rise in diabetic cases.
While the two aren't directly related, there is much speculation surrounding the upwards trends of both. Although, some experts believe that they're tied through the increase in food intake of stressed individuals.
And, with the recent pandemic, many physicians expect an even further uptick in diabetes and prediabetes cases. Although, again, you could connect the two through uptake in food consumption.
Overall, health experts believe that both stress and diabetes are becoming growing trends in Canada.
The Cost of Diabetes in the Workforce
In the next decade in Canada, diabetes will cost $14 billion in lost productivity, death, and unemployment.
For small and medium sized businesses, it can cost employers up to $1,500 per diabetic employee. This figure accounts for missed work and reduced productivity. Drug plan spending for diabetic employees is four times higher than the amount it is for all other claimants. Sick leaves are 15% longer in duration for diabetics than they would be otherwise. Diabetics usually remain on disability for the maximum benefit period, or until death.
Small and medium-sized businesses are the driving forces of Canada’s economic engine. Small and medium-sized businesses cannot compete with the health insurance packages offered by larger companies.
This conundrum stumps the entire potential growth of our economy. Because diabetics rely so heavily on benefits, they limit their own prospects in the workforce; thus the ability to experience the full-spectrum of talent in the workforce is limited to larger-scale companies.
What's more is that when any of us are not living up to our fullest potential, we may become subject to depression and stress, which, you guessed it, further perpetuates the diagnosis of diabetes.
Diabetes and the Cost to the Canadian Healthcare System
As a whole, diabetes is putting more and more strain on Canada's healthcare system. Because the healthcare system in Canada is publicly funded, the implications are even worse.
With each new diabetic patient, there is an increase in the need for public health services for long-term support. But, unfortunately, there is also a loss of productivity because of the increasing resources going into the condition.
Patients with diabetes require more medical care, often from more than one physician. This is not to mention their medication-related needs, which may rise over time depending on the progression of their condition.
Because of all of this treatment demand, Canada is the country that spends the seventh-highest amount of money on diabetes-related expenditures. This totals over $20.5 billion.
Considering Canada's ageing population and upwards diabetes trend, these costs are only expected to rise more.
How Can I Offset the Cost of Insulin?
The cost of diabetes management is different for every patient. It depends on the diabetes type, and on the kind of general health coverage they may or may not have.
People with some coverage will pay less to cover their expenses. Those with type 2 diabetes who have some coverage pay between $2,529 and $2,868 per year. Those with type one diabetes who have some coverage pay between $531 and $5,264 per year.
Those without any health coverage pay even more. In fact, these diabetic patients could spend as much as $15,000 every single year.
We should note that these costs do not include the following:
- Medical visits
- Medical transportation
- Diagnostic testing
- Specialized home healthcare visits
- Permanent residential care
With these included, the costs would be thousands higher.
Because of these high costs, many Canadians with diabetes aren't compliant with their medications. As a result, they may skip doctors' appointments or hold out on insulin doses.
This kind of maltreatment for the condition can lead to diabetic emergencies and even death.
In the face of all of these medical bills, some people with diabetes are reaching out to their local communities. There are GoFund pages and other fundraisers dedicated to individuals who are struggling with paying for their healthcare.
And, with an increasing public awareness of the costs of diabetes, there are more social reforms in motion related to it. As a result, many people are hoping for lower costs in the future.
What Are Some of the Best Ways Diabetics Can Take Care of Themselves?
We don't recommend skipping your medications or lowering your required insulin doses. But, there are some ways that you can save money on your diabetes care.
By following this advice, you could lower your requirement for insulin and medication naturally. Thus, you may be able to save money.
Diet for Diabetics
You should make sure that you're eating meals that are high in nutrients.
Focus on eating three regular meals every single day. These shouldn't be spaced out more than six hours apart from one another. If you don't eat regularly, you could further damage the regulation of your insulin levels. We've taken a deep dive into proper diabetic nutrition and that piece can be found here.
Exercise for Diabetics
Physical activity is vital for diabetes, especially for those with type two diabetes. Regular exercise can help you gain better glycemic control while lowering your blood pressure.
Health experts recommend 150 minutes of aerobic exercise per week. This is in addition to resistance exercises at least twice a week.
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Getting Quality Health Insurance
If you're going to handle the insulin cost in Canada, you need to have quality healthcare.
Luckily, our team here at Insurdinary has pulled together a list of health insurance in Canada. And we can help you get a health insurance quote.
When it comes to your health, you can't cut corners. So, let us help you cut the cost.
Sources: 46Brooklyn, Diabetes Canada, Government of Canada, Insurdinary, Statistics Canada