Podcasts Every Friday from Now On

I have decided that I am finally getting around to doing the podcast ideas that I have had for a long time.  From now on, every Friday is going to be a podcast.  To start off with, they are not going to be live because scheduling confilicts are too difficult to manage with some guests at this point.

The podcast will be recorded sometime during the week and then will be posted on Friday.

If you have any ideas or topics that you would like to be discussed, please let me know.  If you would like to be a guest, then please let me know.

Also, guest post week is next week starting on Monday.

Have a great weekend everybody.

Fired Up Friday – Diabetes Disrespect

Today’s Fired Up Friday is all about Diabetes Disrespect.  We have all seen it and heard it and have reacted in different ways to it.  There is a lot of disrespect to diabetics these days.  I don’t think that any of it is intentional, but it still happens.  I am going to just touch on three specific areas where I think people with diabetes are disrespecting: uneducated doctors, you have diabetes because your fat, and donations.

Uneducated Doctors

Just last week I had to educate an ENT specialist on diabetes.  Earlier in the year I had to give a quick lesson to a nurse at a CVS Minute-Clinic.  Do I expect every type of doctor to be as knowledgeable as my endocrinologist?  No, of course not.  But do I expect them to have a general understanding of diabetes and know about it?  Absolutely!

No matter what kind of doctor you are or what your area of expertise is, you should have an understanding of diabetes.  Don’t ask me if I’m type 1 and then ask if I take insulin, that’s an insult that you don’t know that.  I don’t feel comfortable with a doctor treating me that doesn’t know much about diabetes, because my treatment may need to be different because of my type 1 diabetes.

Diabetes just doesn’t get the respect

Fat and Diabetes

Have you ever heard somebody say that you have diabetes because you’re fat?  They’re not saying it in a mean way, but they just think that you get diabetes because you’re fat.  This is from a lack of knowledge that they have and how diabetes is portrayed in Hollywood and in magazines and news shows.  Yes, I am overweight, by about 30-40 pounds, but that is not the reason that I have diabetes.  I was diagnosed with diabetes when I was in the best shape of my life.  I was playing college football at the time when my blood sugar was in the 500-600’s for 2 straight months.  Now, I find it tough to lose weight with diabetes because every time that I exercise I have to end up eating Skittles or some sort of candy just afterward to get my blood sugar levels normal again.

I’m sick of people thinking that all diabetics have their diabetes because they are fat.  Sometimes I want to say to them what little kids in school say, “I can lose weight and not be fat, but you can’t do anything to change ugly!”, but I take the higher road and just try to explain to them that my weight did not cause diabetes, if anything, I feel that my diabetes caused my weight, (but I also think that is a poor excuse at times as well).

Diabetes is the Rodney Dangerfield of diseases; just get no respect I tell ya.

Non-Profits

There are a lot of diseases out there that deserve to have funds donated to them.  I think there are a lot of non-profits and organizations out there that are a waste of money and the funds can be spent better elsewhere, but I am not one to judge where you want to spend your money.  But I have heard from way too many people too frequently on why they have chosen to donate money to other disease, primarily cancer, rather than diabetes.  I’ll give an example of this that is happening now.  There is a local event coming up for cancer and a lot of my friends and family have donated to this event, and at the same time I will be asking for donations in about a week for the JDRF walk in Boca Raton, FL.  Some people just gave $20 to cancer, and they won’t have anything to give to diabetes.  When I asked somebody why they would donate to cancer and not to diabetes they said because, cancer is “such a horrifying and ugly disease.”  I have family members with cancer and who have passed away due to cancer, so I support funding for cancer research, let’s get that straight right now.  However, to tell me that my disease is not horrifying and ugly really pisses me off.

You don’t see the things that are going on inside of my body.  I can’t put that on a nice little brochure and collect money from you to help find a cure, so it is tough to explain to people the important of these funds.  So, since you are not able to physically see my disease affecting my body and the way I look, than you are not going to donate to help find a cure?

These are just a few reasons that I feel that diabetes is disrespected.  Do you agree / disagree?  Are there more reasons that you have that I didn’t mention?

Fired Up Friday – Diabetic Supplies vs Durable Medical Equipment

I am sure you all know exactly what I am talking about just from reading the headline of the post.  If you don’t, then I will explain.  The insurance company looks at your different type of supplies in two main categories, prescription and durable medical equipment.  The way your insurance company defines them is most likely very similar, some minor differences I’m sure, but overall the same.  Now, what is the biggest difference to you?  Prescription is usually just a co-pay, for instance, $90 for a 90 day mail order supply.  Durable medical equipment (DME) products must be paid for with your deductible at first and then there is a yearly maximum that the insurance company will cover.

I’ll use my personal insurance numbers as examples for today because I don’t mind disclosing values.  I pay$115 a month for insurance through Cobra since I was fired back in November.  With that, I get my insulin which is a prescription, at $90 for a 90 day supply, which is about 16 vials of insulin.  My testing strips I get at the same rate, $90 for a 90 day supply.  I test about 10 times a day, so that’s 300 strips a month, so 6 boxes a month, which is an order of 18 boxes of strips for $90, can’t beat that. Now, the costly stuff comes in with the insulin pump supplies.  I have a $1,500 deductible, so I will have to pay $1,500 out of pocket before the insurance even begins to cover it.  This is about one 3 motnh supply worth of infusion sets and reservoirs, more on that later.  After that $1,500 is met, then insurance company covers only a maximum of $2,000 for the year, so they will cover only one more 90 day supply.  So that leaves me with 6 months to have to pay for infusion sets and reservoirs myself.

Here is where my problem with the insurance companies comes up.  Why do they consider my infusion sets durable medical equipment and not as a diabetic supply?  Diabetic supplies are covered by your prescription plan which would just be a $90 co-payment.  I understand that people use infusion sets for other things other than diabetes, but if I am using them to manage my diabetes, wouldn’t that be considered a diabetic supply?  This is just another way that the insurance companies can force you into paying extra money in order to survive.

Is there anything that we can do about this?  I really don’t think there is, but I wish that we could.  It is just irritating to know that this is a supply that I need to control my diabetes, so doesn’t that make it a diabetic supply?  Now, I don’t know if you all know how exactly products are billed to the insurance companies, but I will give a little advice on to how this is done.  Your supply company basically charges 3 times the amount of what you would pay to purchase it with cash online.  For instance, if you could buy directly from supplier at $100, they will bill the insurance company $300.  So that eats up your yearly maximum 3 times as fast.

First thing that I would suggest to you, is to find out the policy with your insurance company for reimbursement for submitting invoices.  Some insurance companies will allow you to purchase your insulin pump supplies in cash and then submit the invoice to them for payment.  This could save you a lot of money in the long term because you can get 3 times more in supplies.

Well, like always, I want to hear your feedback.  Leave a comment, hit me up on Twitter, e-mail me, do whatever you want, but I want to hear your opinions.

Fired Up Friday – High Cost of Diabetes Test Strips

This week’s edition of Fired Up Friday is something that I know fires up everybody.  The high cost of diabetes testing strips.  Supplies in general are expensive, but I’m just trying to focus on the strips themselves because I think we use more of these than any other supplies.  Do a quick search for “cost of diabetic test strips” or “how much does it cost to make diabetes test strips” and look at the results.  Here is a screen shot from one of those searches and I am amazed by what I find.

What did you see?  Did you see anything that actually tells me how much it costs to make a test strip?  I didn’t see anything.  So, I am not going to speak and argue about things that are not fact.  So a fact is, I don’t know exactly how much it costs to make a test strip.  From the automation process of it, I would say that it can’t cost anymore then, let’s say, $0.05 to make one strip.  If this is the case, then why does one box of 100 strips at a retail pharmacy cost on average, $100?  That is $1 per strip.  That is a 95% profit.  What business has a 95% profit, seriously?

To the manufacturers, you have made enough money off of us already.  It’s not like we are going anywhere anytime soon, we are still going to use your products.  Let’s look at the economics behind it, and let’s take a look at a dollar store.  How can a dollar store make money by selling things for $1 that even Wal-Mart sells for $5.00?  Easily, the quantity they sell, (there are other reasons as well, such as being bulk and buying short dated).  They can sell 5 things at $1, and Wal-Mart sells 1 at $5, they both make the same amount of money essentially.  So how can diabetes manufacturers work like this?

This is very simple.  Cut your prices in half and you will sell twice as more.  A lot of people have switched from using the top brands to a cheaper brand because the strips are 50-60% cheaper, and they work pretty much the same way.  I’ve used just about every meter out there and they give me the same results, so get off your high horse, especially that “One” company that thinks everything they “Touch” is gold!  Not that I am pointing anybody out or anything.  Not like they will read the “Life” of a diabetic and “Scan” this blog to read what people have to say.  Get over yourself!

Moving on.  Testing yourself and seeing good results is an addiction.  It really is.  When I am trying to manage my sugar the best, I test 12-16 times a day.  So what does this mean?  It means that I will buy twice the amount of boxes of strips if the prices were cut in half.  I would continue to spend the same amount of money, and I wouldn’t go and buy a cheaper brand, I would stick with your top name brand.  By you not cutting your prices, you are losing business.  Do you not see that?  I think a lot of these big shots at the top manufacturers were too hung over or stoned to go to their Economics 101 class in college.

I dare to see a top manufacturer cut your prices in half, go $0.30 per strip.  I know it would make me want to use the product, and I know I’m not the only one to think so.  I can bet that your company’s new price structure would be the hot topic of the diabetic community.  But are you listening?  Are you out there Freestyle?  Hello Bayer? Those arrogant guys, you there too, or you too busy golfing and playing polo somewhere?  I know Roche has brought the diabetic community before and plans on doing it again this year at Children with Diabetes, but not too sure about the others.

Show me some goodwill on your end, and I show you a customer for life!

I’ll be here waiting for your next move, but I won’t be holding my breathe.

What say you?

Life of a Diabetic Weekend Recap

First, I want to thank you all for your feedback, RT’s, and comments from the Fired Up Friday post about drink options.  I am glad to hear that I am not just being a drama queen (or would it be king?) and overreacting to something like this.  Anywho, the weekend was great!  It of course went by way too fast, but I accomplished a lot.  Friday night, Amanda and I were going to see that Shutter Island movie but decided to wait a week or two so there is not as many people there when we go to see it.  I hate being in a crowded movie theater, I don’t like tight spaces.  Plus, since I’m diabetic, my blood sugar can get high as we all know and I will need to run to the bathroom a million times during the movie.  Since, we decided not to go that night, we didn’t do anything.  My blood sugars were still a little high all night Friday, in the 175-190 range.

Saturday morning was the WordCamp Miami conference, so I was up at 6:00 a.m.  I got my stuff ready the night before because I knew I would forget either my meter, or extra insulin, or a couple extra infusion sets, etc.  The conference was a lot of fun and I learned a lot more about WordPress then I initially knew going down there, so it was well worth it.  If you are interested in that type of geeky, web stuff as well, then read my other blog as well, Chris Stocker, Inc. because I don’t talk too much about on it here.  Saturday night we headed up to West Palm Beach for the Opening Night of the Waterfront.  It was basically just some streets blocked off and lots of food, beer, live entertainment.  I’m not so sure about the exact history of it, but I gave you a link if you’re interested, but it was fun.  Amanda and I ate at some Mexican place and the insulin didn’t seem to take, so that type 1 diabetes thing I have made the sugars a little high, about 275.

Sunday morning was another little community thing that Amanda, her brother, and myself went to.  It was in Lake Worth, FL and it was some outdoor thing where artists and kids were drawing on the street with chalk, it was actually pretty damn cool.  I’m having trouble with my camera uploading things, so I will post some of the pictures tomorrow from it.  Other than that, it was time to go home and get to work.  I have a few blogs that I am almost finished designing for clients and a couple of other websites that are still in process.  I’m getting a little stressed from the work, but after these couple projects are finished it will slow down because there aren’t any other large projects lined up right now, but I prefer to be extremely busy like that.  The busier I am, the more of these I drink.Rip It Sugar Free Energy Drink - Diabetes

Finally, for the bad news.  My ear is still clogged up pretty bad, so I am going back to the doctor on Tuesday to just make sure that I don’t have an infection or something else worse going on.  I found a place that will accept the insurance, so it won’t be as much money to pay for this visit.  I really appreciate all your help and suggestions.  The Neti Pot worked miracles, but it doesn’t keep it un-clogged, it always seems to clog back up after I use it, or sometimes it doesn’t even work.  It’s just becoming frustrating right now.  But, just another obstacle to overcome when you have a life of a diabetic

Fired Up Friday – Limited Drink Options at Restaurants

Every time I go to a restaurant, I tend to get a little mad.  There may be a few reasons why, but primarily it is because I may not be in the mood to drink water, diet Coke / Pepsi or un-sweetened iced tea.  But, guess what, those are the only options.  With so many diabetics in this country don’t you think we deserve to have just as many options of beverages than people who are not living with diabetes have?  Not only people with diabetes, but all the people who are trying to diet and make the right choices when eating out have minimal choices.

I have always wanted to start a petition to force restaurants to have more options.  I’ve been told by people that if I want diet soda then I probably shouldn’t be eating there anyway.  Let’s take an example of this.  If I walk into a fast food joint because I’m in the mood for it, and order some unhealthy greasy burger and fries, ok let’s be realistic, 2 burgers, but I order a diet coke.  Should I be looked at weird because I’m getting a diet coke to go along with my 1,500 calorie meal?  No, not at all because I am choosing to take about 10 units less of insulin by drinking the diet coke.  Therefore, I should have a few more options of drinks.

Let’s take a look at some of the people who are doing it right and why I will choose their place to eat over others.

  • Chick-Fil-A – I will spend more money for a chicken sandwich here than other places because they offer sugar free lemonade and diet Dr. Pepper.  I love diet Dr. Pepper, it is the only diet soda that I used to drink before I was even diabetic, because I can’t taste the difference in the two.
  • Quiznos (some) – Why would I rather pay an extra dollar for my footlong?  Easily, they offer un-sweetened, Sprite Zero, diet Mtn. Dew, and various bottled beverages that are zero carb or diet.
  • Pei-Wei – There is more than one reason why I enjoy this place, but I spend more money on their food, for one the quality of food is better, but also because they have two different flavors on un-sweetened tea, they also have Fresca, which is a great alternative to diet Sprite all the time.

These are just a few of the places that have won my customer loyalty all because they offer drinks other than diet coke and un-sweetened iced tea.  If there are any restaurant owners / managers out there reading this right now, did you just read that?  I have been won over by places because of their beverage options, not because your burger is a ¼ larger, or you have extra sauce or your foot long is only $5.00(even though you charge almost $3.00 for a combo which ends up being more expensive than your competition, I see your trick).  I understand that I am in the minority here and you have to make business decisions based upon the majority.  Put, are you really going to spend that much extra money by eliminating 1 flavor or regular soda and switching it out with diet?  I doubt not.

I have gone as far as bringing in my own drink into a restaurant because they don’t have a type of drink that I like.  They didn’t have a problem with it, they just charged me for the cost of purchasing a drink of theirs.

How do you all feel about this?  Am I just over-reacting to this situation?

Fired Up Friday Vol 2. – “Free Diabetes Supplies”

Today is the second volume of Fired Up Friday.  Last week’s first edition was about Share A Story contests.  Remember these posts are my opinions based only upon my own personal experiences.  If what I am saying is wrong, please comment and let me know because I have an open mind and have changed opinions on things once I learned more about them.  Today’s post is going to be about “Free Diabetes Supplies”

We have all heard the commercials on tv about call in now and receive free diabetes supplies.  Sign up for this and get free diabetes supplies.  Fill out this form and get free diabetes supplies.  Honestly, when was the last time you got free diabetes supplies?  Sure, I’ve received a lot of meters for free, but what good does that do for me, it comes with 10 strips!  Guess what, I use 10 strips a day, so thanks your free supplies lasted me a day!  You have now just lost my respect for your company because you’re trying to just sucker me into your customer mailing list.

There are a lot of marketing guidelines when it comes to anything that is medical related, and I know the word Free is a tough word to actually use in the diabetes market.  Usually it comes with a little asterik next to it that has such small fine print that the patients on Medicare can’t read anyway.  Being a marketing consultant myself, I obviously know the benefits of using the word FREE, but there are limitations and certain situations / products that it should just not be allowed.  Diabetes is such an expensive disease to manage that when people see or hear free, their eyes light up and run right over.  They may be in such dire need, that they just sign up for the free supplies and next thing you know, 90 days later are smacked with more supplies with a $400 bill.  Is that really showing that you care about your customers, so that’s why you give things away for free?

When will you manufacturers and supply companies listen.  Stop advertising Free Diabetic Supplies and just sending out a free meter and that’s it.  I think giving away free meters is a great marketing tactic and a great way to get a new customer, but advertise it that you’re just getting a free meter.  It is very confusing, especially to elderly people on Medicare that end up getting stuck with this large bill for the testing strips that go along with their free meter.

Enough of my thoughts, what do you think?  Do you think it is ok for supply companies and manufacturers to always advertise free diabetes supplies?

Share a Story Contests – Too Many or Too Few – Your Thoughts?

From here on out, every Friday is going to be an opinionated blog.  Let’s call it, ‘Fired Up Friday’.  During the week I typically blog about things that are going on in my life, hence the Life of a Diabetic blog name.  I try to detail things that can go on while living with diabetes or living normally with diabetes as I call it.  There are a lot of things out in the D world that you may or may not agree with.  In the case of some of my Friday blogs, you may or may not agree with them, if you don’t I would really appreciate your feedback and comments.  The way I look at every situation is this; I may have an opinion on something because I don’t know enough about the other side to form a positive opinion.

Today’s idea came about because of noticing how many different diabetes story contests there are out there.  STOP!

There are enough story submission, share your story, whatever you want to call it contests and sites around, don’t try to create another one.  This is more geared towards companies than it is the d-bloggers.  I am all about d-bloggers sharing their story; in fact I think that part is awesome.  I think guest-blogging is one of the greatest ideas in the world (I am starting a weekly guest blog on February, so don’t be surprised if you get an e-mail from me soon), but all these contests need to stop.  Find a more creative way to engage us diabetics and your “customers”.

The first share your story type of post I saw was on Kerri’s site.  I submitted my story to her when I first started blogging and she published it on her site and I, still to this day, am very grateful and appreciative of that.  These are the type of story submissions that should stay, but I have seen a few companies recently start collecting stories for gifts, and I think it is just one big ploy to get business.

Majority of you know where I used to work, if you don’t e-mail me and we can discuss it on the side, I wouldn’t give them the recognition on my blog.  Bitter?  No, just know the behind the scenes and not legally allowed to speak about it in a public forum like this.  But reason I bring that up is that there was a story submission contest and at the end of it, I didn’t see the corporate benefits of it.  I can definitely see the benefits for the community, because you get to read a lot of people’s stories that you don’t normally see.  Maybe they don’t have a blog, so they aren’t writing about their daily lives, or maybe they have a blog, but you just don’t know about it.

So, I will end this blog with this.  I am all for sharing your story, but with the diabetes OC, not with corporate contests, because you just become an e-mail on a mailing list.

What are your thoughts?  Do you think that there is too many share your story contests out there or do you think that there is not enough?  I am interested to hear your opinions.