Type 1 Diabetes and Health Insurance

The numbers from the Center for Disease Control are alarming: 24 million Americans, or 8% of the entire population, suffer from some form of diabetes. Diabetes is responsible for an estimated 36 million doctor visits each year.

There is no cure for Type 1 diabetes, which accounts for 5% to 10% of diabetes cases. But with proper treatment, people who suffer from diabetes can live a long, healthy life.  

What is Type 1 Diabetes?

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease in which the body's immune system attacks insulin-producing cells in the pancreas, causing the body to produce little or no insulin. If left untreated, a person with Type 1 diabetes could fall into a life-threatening coma. There is no cure, and most people with Type 1 diabetes depend on daily insulin supplements to live.

Symptoms of Type 1 diabetes include increased thirst, frequent urination, extreme hunger, weight loss, blurred vision and fatigue. It can develop at any age, but it most commonly appears in children, teenagers and young adults.

Symptoms of Type 1 Diabetes

Some of the symptoms of Type 1 diabetes include:

  • Extreme thirst
  • Frequent urination
  • Feeling overly hungry or tired
  • Weight loss or gain
  • Slow-healing sores
  • Dry, itchy skin
  • Losing feeling in your feet, tingling feet
  • Blurry eyesight

Symptoms of Type 1 diabetes typically develop over a short period of time. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, you should make an appointment with a doctor.

How is Type 1 Diabetes Treated?

Treatment for Type 1 diabetes focuses on keeping blood sugar in a healthy range. A daily intake of insulin, a healthy diet rich in carbohydrates and regular exercise are staples of treatment. People with Type 1 diabetes may be instructed to check their blood sugar throughout the day. Only a doctor or medical professional can determine the best treatment for those suffering with diabetes.

Who is at Risk for Type 1 Diabetes?

Researchers aren't certain why some people get diabetes and others don't, but certain factors do increase your risk. Type 1 diabetes typically develops in children, but it can appear at any age. It is most common in men and women of Caucasian descent.

According to the Food and Drug Administration, you are at higher risk of having diabetes if:

  • An immediate family member has diabetes
  • Are African American, Hispanic, American Indian, Native Alaskan, Asian American, or Pacific Islander
  • Have high blood pressure
  • You've had gestational diabetes during pregnancy
  • You're overweight
  • You live a sedentary lifestyle
  • You are over 45 years of age

What Results From Type 1 Diabetes?

According to the American Diabetes Association, having Type 1 diabetes increases the risk for many serious complications, including heart disease, blindness, nerve damage, kidney damage. If left untreated, Type 1 diabetes can become life-threatening.

In all, diabetes was the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S. in 2002. About 65% of deaths among those suffering from diabetes are attributed to heart disease and stroke.

When Treating Diabetes, Health Insurance is Critical

Unlike a flu or swollen wrist, most cases of diabetes won't just "go away" without treatment; it's a serious disease that, if left untreated, could become life-threatening. People with diabetes should visit a medical professional who can help them manage their diabetes and monitor their insulin and glucose levels. Most people with diabetes receive care from primary care physicians, but utilizing a team of physicians and specialists can improve overall diabetes care. A team may include a primary care provider, an endocrinologist, a certified diabetes educator, a podiatrist and, if pregnant, an obstetrician for the mother and pediatrician for the baby.

Without a proper health insurance policy, simple expenses like a doctor's visit or diabetes medication can prove extremely expensive. If you're referred to a specialist or need a team of doctors to help treat your diabetes, your out-of-pocket costs could be astronomical.

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