Managing bladder and bowel problems can be expensive. This is true for health systems and for individuals.
Unfortunately, in most countries the provision of dedicated continence services and the supply of products needed to manage bladder and bowel problems are not considered priorities by health system administrators. This is especially true in developing countries with health systems that are often under-resourced and over-stretched. 123 So in many countries around the world people must pay for the products they need.
Even in countries where there is a publicly funded national health system or an insurance-based system, many people do not get all the products they need free of charge. With all the other demands on these health systems and a growing elderly population, it seems likely that the proportion of products that must be paid for out-of-pocket will grow.
Costs of products often vary between countries. In countries in which some products are provided free of charge by publicly funded health systems, the retail market size tends to be smaller so that products may be less widely available and relatively expensive. In countries with health systems that are largely insurance-based, some products may be priced according to prices that insurers are willing to pay, which can be a burden on those without insurance.
In countries where people must purchase all their own supplies, the prices are often lower. This is due to several factors, including greater competition in larger retail markets and pricing to suit local ability to pay.
For most people it is important to think about how to keep the cost of products under control, especially if you will need them long-term.
There are number of things you can consider to minimise your expenses on products:
The most obvious thing you can do is to always look out for cheaper products and options. Although well known brands of any product type may offer some advantages, these are often not necessarily worth the extra expense.
Some cheaper brands are just as good as the more expensive ones, and on occasion considered better by individual users. Some large retail chains sell products under their own name that are made by the manufacturers of the leading brands, often at a lower price.
Many people restrict their use of more expensive products to certain times or activities. For example, you might use cheaper, bulkier pads when at home, but use more expensive and more discreet products when socialising or at work.
You can consider using reusable products. Although washable absorbent products may be more expensive to purchase initially, they can be more cost effective than disposable products over time. The more often they are used, the more cost effective they become. Some people use washable products at home, but use more absorbent and reliable disposable products when they are out and about.
Around the world many people re-use intermittent catheters, washing them after each use and stowing them in a clean receptacle. Cleaning non-coated catheters using soap and water and a 15-minute soak in Milton fluid has been shown to leave them free of the organisms that can cause infection. 45