I live with Type 1 diabetes.
Unfortunately, despite the promise of a cure being "five years away" every time I turn around, my chronic medical condition isn’t curable yet. And it's very expensive to treat, much less live a healthy life.
But over the past few years, I've found a number of ways to make my disease help pay for its treatment.
When I turned my side income focus to diabetes, my goal was to cover the individual deductible for my health insurance, which costs $3,000 a year. Last year, I was able to exceed my goal.
Here are five things I've done to actually earn "diabetes money"...
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I’ve been following several of the top diabetes blogs for a long time and responded to a tweet from my favorite one when it was seeking social media assistance. Now I spend a few hours a week managing its social media accounts. Occasionally, I also write posts and get paid for those, as well.
Freelancing is one of the most popular part-time businesses. It’s said to play to your strengths, and for once I can actually consider living with Type 1 diabetes one of those!
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My Glu is specifically for people with Type 1 diabetes, but Your Care Moments covers many health conditions. Both sites are free to join.
Usually, the compensation is small -- around $25 per online survey, typically offered in Amazon gift cards -- but it’s easy money. I've also found other online paid health survey research through social media.
I don’t have as much time to seek out surveys as I’d like, so I usually only take ones that come to me. I’ve only taken two this year, but I took eight in 2015.
Sites like MyGlu and Your Care Moments may also connect you to research beyond online surveys, but it’s less common.
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I've also responded to product research inquiries on social media or through My Glu. They usually involve 15 minutes on the phone or viewing a video, followed by taking a survey. Compensation is often Amazon gift cards or a PayPal deposit.
I've done two interviews in the past year and qualified for four paid surveys; my Type 1 diagnosis is atypical, so I don't qualify for as many others might. I earn anywhere from $20-$30 per interview.
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I'm involved in a multi-clinic study on diabetes. I simply allow the study to receive my test results from regular doctor visits and take an annual survey they email to me.
I got involved in this study through my clinic. A research coordinator told me about it following an appointment with my endocrinologist.
Usually, I can select either a $20 Amazon gift card or a donation to a diabetes charity. The day I signed up for the study at my doctor's office, they also paid for my parking -- an added perk. Ask your doctor if there are any studies you can participate in.
Clinical studies are different from clinical trials in that they’re observatory and track trends, rather than testing a treatment. The one I’m a part of doesn’t require much time or effort on my part.
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I signed up for a Type 1 diabetes Living BioBank that matches patients with researchers. When a scientist is studying something and goes to the Biobank to request samples and the criteria matches me, the bank calls me to arrange an appointment at a local laboratory.
The last time I was matched, I went to a convenient location, had a pain-free blood draw and provided a urine sample. The lab sent my samples off to the BioBank and a week later, I received a check in the mail.
These blood draws pay anywhere from $50-$100, depending on the study.
These five strategies continue to help me earn enough each year to cover my maximum out-of-pocket deductible with some left over.
You'll notice most of these are research-related. I participate in a variety of paid and unpaid research initiatives for several reasons, primarily to help people much smarter than me work toward better treatment for diabetes -- and hopefully someday a cure.
Three other ways people with chronic medical conditions can earn money include:
I would participate in clinical trials, if I could. However, my Type 1 diabetes diagnosis doesn’t qualify.
Some sites -- such as DiabetesMine -- pay for video product reviews in their “Test Kitchen.” If your video is accepted, you could make $100. I haven’t tried this, but I know others who’ve had success filming reviews.
You can film product reviews for other sites as well. Check out how to earn money making product review videos.
Diabetes is a supply-heavy disease to treat, so there’s often a market for unused, unopened supplies (like test strips). This is a good option if you switch meters and find yourself with supplies you won't use.
If you’re considering this option, research the companies first.
I haven’t looked into this yet, but if I ever end up with a supply surplus, I’ll consider it.
Some sites where you can sell extra supplies include Cash4DiabeticSupplies.com and DiabeticTestStrips.org. Apparently, prices vary by brand and the quantity of strips -- I’ve seen prices ranging from $20-$60 per box, but they can’t be opened or expired.
Your Turn: Have you found a way to earn money specifically related to a medical condition?
Rachel Kerstetter was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes as a broke newlywed and recent college grad. You can read about her life with diabetes, passion for refashion and adventures in homeownership at ProbablyRachel.com or follow her on Twitter @ProbablyRachel.