Diabetic Cost of Living – Germany Edition

What is the true financial cost of living with diabetes? Unfortunately, that depends on where you live.

As part of the Happy Diabetic Challenge to raise awareness for diabetes, I included the cost of living with diabetes as a prompt. This can be taken multiple ways, the physical toll diabetes takes on someone with diabetes, the financial costs that diabetes incurs, etc.

For me, the financial cost of living with diabetes has always been of interest to me. It’s infuriating to see that so many type 1 diabetics do not have reasonable financial access to the drugs that keep us alive. And for that matter, the amount of diabetics who do not have access to insulin at all.

For the sake of brevity, I will focus on just a few financial points of what it’s like to live with diabetes in Germany.  I will be as factual as I can possibly be. If you would like further documentation, just ask.

In Germany, health insurance is a right, not a privilege. It is mandatory and everyone is insured.

Each month, 300 Euros are deducted from my paycheck. My husband has 255 Euros deducted. As you can see, the costs are similar for each of us. My husband does not have any health issues. There is no such thing as being charged more or discriminated against for having a pre-existing condition. The only thing I pay out of pocket for is insulin and glucagon, all pump and CGM supplies are 100% covered.

There are SO many examples of how affordable health coverage is in Germany, so I will pick three examples: an ER visit, Glucagon, and Insulin.

ER Visit.

I had to visit the Emergency Room when my pump broke and I didn’t have back-up pens with me. Don’t lecture me, it’s a LONG story. What you need to know:

It was one in the morning and my pump broke. I went to the ER to get insulin pens so that I could bridge the time until Monday morning when doctors and pharmacies are available (it was a Sunday). The ER checked my blood sugar a few times, gave me Levemir and Novolog pens, as well as about 25-30 needles to last me through the weekend. The entire experience took about 45 minutes. One important note: I WAS NOT INSURED IN GERMANY FOR PRE-EXISTING CONDITIONS. (Au-Pair/travel insurance is not the same as every-day German resident insurance.) I was absolutely terrified of what the ER bill would be. As it turns out, I had nothing to worry about. The entire experience, without insurance, cost me 32.05 Euro. (See image below with ER bill.)

rezept and cost3
Bill for ER visit and Pharmacy receipt for Glucagon.

Glucagon.

It’s the only drug in the world that can save a diabetic’s life in case of a severe low blood sugar. Thankfully, most of us will not have to use one. However, we should all have a Glucagon kit with us at all times. The issue: the price. 

In Germany, without insurance, one Glucagon kit costs 32.70 Euro. A prescription is necessary, but it can be purchased without insurance. With insurance, I paid 5 Euros for one Glucagon kit. In the United States, the average selling price is $363. Let that sink in.

Insulin.

In this case, I will reference the newest insulin on the market, Fiasp. As referenced below, five (5) vials of Fiasp, without insurance, cost 199.28 Euro. With insurance in Germany, the cost is 10 Euro. This is compared to the rough average price of $291 for ONE (1) vial in the United States.

Let’s break that down.

Five vials in Germany cost less than ONE vial in the US. One vial in Germany, when broken down, costs 39.86 Euro. In this case, insulin in the US costs more than 7x as much as it does in Germany. 

fiasp rezept
My most recent receipt from my Fiasp prescription.

As much as I hate that insulin costs an outrageous and completely unaffordable price in the US, there are places in the rest of the world where there is NO access to insulin.

By standing up and fighting for our rights, we can make a difference. By advocating and educating, we can make a difference. 

What is the financial cost of living with diabetes like in your country?

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P.S. If you would be willing to share your country’s financial costs related to diabetic supplies, please reach out and send an e-mail to me: the.insulin.type@gmail.com
Factual and evidence based only.

9 Comments

  1. Hi, Lots of love from India and Thank you so much for sharing this cost breakup of Type-1 Diabetes in Germany. I have been living with Type-1 for more than 2 years. I am thinking of pursuing Master’s in Germany, but I had my doubts about living with Type-1 in Germany. This article has given a bit of clarity what it might cost there.
    Can you tell me which insurance a foreign student can take in Germany while studying for Post Graduation? Also, I know its mandatory for every student coming there, so it will be a great help if it can be understood that such pre-condition would be covered or not?

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  2. Hi, I just wanted to say thank you for this – I’m living with T1 Diabetes in the U.S and currently looking into options for moving to Germany (for a few reasons, but one of them being that the cost of diabetes supplies here without insurance is insane!) I recently did a breakdown of what a month’s worth of supplies would cost for me if I lost the insurance I have through my work, and it’s terrifying – $1413 USD for insulin, test strips, lancets, pump supplies, and the two oral meds I’m on for my thyroid and cholesterol. Half of that is just for the insulin, two vials of Humalog per month. Given that my monthly income is around 1500 a month (if you add my insurance premium back in) it just wouldn’t be possible to survive here if I no longer had insurance through my employer. So it’s nice to see that the options in Germany are indeed much more reasonable, if I can find a way to move there.

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  3. Hi, this is great news! I’ll move into Berlin soon, and I was slightly afraid of the costs (I’m from Latin America). Could you tell me what’s your insurance company? Also, what’s your pump model? I believe the ones by Roche aren’t covered, and while I’m not attached to any particular brand, I’d like to research a bit before switching, just for peace of mind.

    Would you happen to know the costs, if any, of the test stripes and lancets for those with a pump but no CGM?

    Thank you!!

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    1. I have Salus BKK for insurance, but there are a lot of options and to be honest, I don’t know the differences between them. But coverage is fantastic here 👌 I have the Medtronic Minimed 640G. As mentioned, I’m not an expert, but I’ve never heard of German insurance companies denying certain brands. That happens often in the US that a company isn’t “preferred” but I don’t think that’s the case here. I think it’s more of a decision you make with your doctor. As for test strips and lancets, mine are 100% covered and I even have a CGM. Let me know if you want to chat further about it! I’d be happy to help as best I can.

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  4. This is a really good post, thank you for sharing. I’m a T1D in the US, and right now I don’t have health insurance. I’m working on it, though! Luckily I have a stash of supplies, as I was anticipating this. If I was to go get my insulin without insurance (Humalog and Lantus) it would cost something like $700 for a months supply. Test strips would be over $200. Almost $1000/month just to keep from dying. I’ve never got glucagon before because it’s too expensive. Hope I never need it 😐

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