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Did you know that 1 in 10 Latino have been diagnosed diabetes?
In fact, the rate of diabetes is higher among Latinos (11.8%) than Whites (7.4%) and Asians (9.5%), according to CDC data.
This is problematic because the disease takes a harsh physical toll, from vision loss to amputation and death, and a big healthcare toll, costing $237 billion in direct medical costs and $90 billion in lost productivity.
For Latinos who have diabetes, having health insurance is critical to managing the disease.
Let’s explore the state of diabetes among Latinos and what to consider when choosing a Medicare plan to help manage the disease.
Latinos and Diabetes Risk
If you’re a Latino adult, your lifetime chance of developing diabetes is over 50%, and you’re likely to develop it at a younger age, according to the CDC.
Latinos also are more likely to have prediabetes.
This not only poses a higher risk for developing diabetes, but other serious health problems, too, including heart disease and stroke.
Why the higher rates?
The reasons for the diabetes crisis among Latinos are complex, from genetics to obesity and lack of access to healthy food and safe places to be physically active.
“We must work to address health inequities, including lack of access to health insurance, safe places to play, and nutritious food, that continue to put Latinos and other people of color at higher risk for diabetes,” said Dr. Amelie Ramirez, director of Salud America! and its home base, the Institute for Health Promotion Research at UT Health San Antonio.
Latinos and Diabetes Management
Managing diabetes is not easy.
Language and communication barriers can impact diabetes treatment among Latinos.
“If you can’t communicate fully with your doctors or they don’t understand your values and preferences, you’re less likely to follow treatment instructions and make lifestyle changes,” according to the CDC.
Diabetes development can also lead to life-changing complications when the disease spirals out of control, such as vision loss, kidney failure, and even limb amputations.
In fact, Latinos with diabetes are much more likely to undergo diabetes-related amputations.
“The removal of a lower extremity can have a significant impact on the health and quality of life of the recipient,” according to a Salud America! resource.
What Latinos with Diabetes Should Consider in Medicare
The high rate of diabetes among Latinos makes having healthcare coverage important.
Many look to Medicare for coverage. Here is everything you should know about Medicare, a federal health insurance program for people who are 65 or older, regardless of income, medical history, or health status.
For Latinos who have diabetes, there are some factors to consider in choosing a Medicare plan.
These considerations include insulin costs, your endocrinologist, and availability of supplies and equipment, such as glucose test strips, insulin, glucose monitors, lancet devices, and more.
- Tests to tell if you have diabetes
- Drugs and supplies you will need if you have diabetes
- Services that can help you manage your diabetes and stay healthy
Both type 1 and type 2 diabetes are covered under Medicare.
“Medicare Part B covers up to two diabetes screenings each year if you are at risk for diabetes. It also covers many of the supplies and services you may need to control your diabetes,” according to the National Council on Aging.
Medicare Part D covers insulin, diabetes drugs, and certain supplies.
“However, there are times when Medicare Part D does not cover insulin, diabetes drugs, or supplies. For example, Medicare Part B, not D, covers external insulin pumps and the insulin used in them,” the National Council in Aging reports.
To be considered medically necessary, a physician will have to provide evidence that the supply will help treat or manage one’s diabetes and write a prescription for the supply.
To receive coverage, a patient must purchase the diabetic supply from a Medicare-approved supplier.
Insulin affordability recently changed with the passing of the Inflation Reduction Act.
“Under the Inflation Reduction Act, out-of-pocket costs for insulin in Medicare are now capped at $35 per monthly prescription for Part D, as of January 1, 2023, with a similar cap taking effect in Part B on July 1, 2023,” according to the ASPE.
There are also disease prevention programs, healthy food benefits, and diabetes screenings included in most Medicare Advantage plans (Medicare Part C).
“To get any of these benefits that we’re talking about, you have to have A and B. Most of these benefits are in a Part C,” according to Alyssa Gonzales, a licensed Medicare sales agent with The Gonzales Agency. “The people that have Medicare Supplements, Medigap plans, they don’t get these benefits.”
Speaking with an agent can also be a helpful starting point when it comes to picking the right
plan that is tailored to managing chronic conditions.
“A lot of people think that they need to pay us. There is no fee to talk to me or to take my time,” Gonzales said. “So, it is to our best interest to make sure you’re OK throughout the year.”
How Healthy Is Your Community?
Medicare plays a major role in providing health and financial security for over 60 million older people and people with disabilities.
The health of you and your familia is crucial, but what about the health of your community?
Look to the Salud America Health Equity Report Card to explore Latino-focused, local data on healthcare, education, transportation, and several other health-related topics
Find and compare data from your area to other counties and states across the country.
Share your county’s data with city leaders or social justice organizations to advocate for change in your community.