Wednesday, February 15, 2012

And The Grand Total Is...

It's income tax time folks.  I'm patiently checking the mailbox every day waiting for one more piece of mail before I can sit down at the table with my Big Red pencil, my calculator and my 2011 tax package.

Normally, my returns are pretty straightforward.  I have one T4 and I have my RRSP contributions.  I spend 45 minutes plugging in the numbers and get pretty much the same amount back that I got the year before.  Easy peasy.  I then spend ten more minutes on the phone using Telefile.  It's faster than mailing in my return and it's free.  All I have to do is punch numbers into my phone as requested by the familiar, soothing, male voice who always helps me work my way through the system.

This year, I decided to add up all of my medical receipts to see if I spent enough out of pocket to claim medical expenses. I had toyed with the idea for the past few years but never felt it would make much of a difference so I didn't bother.  Since I was home sick on Monday I figured I could handle sitting at the table for a while working out the numbers.

I opened my diabetes cupboard and grabbed my bag full of receipts.  For the past three years, every time I get prescriptions filled, I toss the receipts in there.  First step was to sort the receipts by year.  Then staple them to their corresponding credit card statements.  Then create a spreadsheet that allowed me to enter three amounts for each visit to the pharmacy: the amount I spent on insulin pump supplies, the amount I spent on other prescriptions and the total amount paid.

The reason I separated them out was that I, like other Ontarians on the pump, receive a quarterly cheque for pump supplies (the reservoir and the infusion set).  So even though I pay out of pocket for the supplies, I am reimbursed later so I can't claim those costs (unless I spent more than I am reimbursed).  I can only claim costs for other prescriptions (insulin, test strips, etc).

As I entered the numbers, a picture began to form. It's pretty incredible when you see it laid out in front of you.

In 2011, I spent almost $900 in prescriptions.  That's how much I spent AFTER my benefits took care of 80% of things.  I did some quick math to figure out the total cost of all the prescriptions (what I paid plus what my benefits covered).  The total cost was $4500.  That does not include my insulin pump supplies which cost an additional $2000.00.

So a total of $6500 was spent last year (by myself, my benefit provider and the Ontario government) to keep me alive and healthy.

I can only guess at the cost of all the visits to medical professionals (multiple visits to the Diabetes Centre, ophthalmologist, family doctor, and clinics for blood work).

I exercise six days a week. I eat well and take care of myself.  I work hard to stay healthy because I believe strongly in the old adage that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Imagine what I would cost if I didn't?


  1. Holy snap! I have wanted to do that for.... ever but never brought myself to save receipts.

    It's shocking isn't it? which is precisely why I don't know how one would ever afford this on their own, out of pocket, without being insanely rich.

    this is a true eye opener, the cost to stay alive with diabetes. :( !!!

  2. I just started a spreadsheet for 2012 to track all of my medical expenses. I'm interested to see the grand total...but totally freaked out at the same time.

    I too work out, eat right, and take care of myself. It's amazing what it costs for basic "upkeep" of Diabetes when we are doing everything in our power to live at our healthiest.

    I can't even imagine what it would be like without insurance!