Why Do Test Strips Cost So Much?
Have you looked at test strip prices and thought, “These should be made of gold?” Well, they are made of gold, along with other costly chemicals. But some cost 16 cents apiece; others cost $1 to $2. Why this range? What price is right? Spurred by some comments from DSM reader John C, I decided to research test strips, and they’re amazing. In fact, I will need two columns to explore them and the issues involved in their best use. To understand how test strips work, you would need to know quantum mechanics and electrochemistry (whatever that is), and I don’t. Here’s the part I could understand: Modern strips work by measuring the electrical energy in glucose in the blood. According to an article by Erika Gebel, PhD, in Diabetes Forecast, “Electrochemical test strips, the world standard today, employ enzymes…that convert glucose into an electrical current. That electricity…is read out by the meter as a glucose concentration.” It’s much faster than the old way, which was based on reading a color change, and requires much less blood. Apparently, working with enzymes is hard. “You want hydration around the enzyme to keep it active, but not too much because that will lead to degradation,” says Selly Saini, the worldwide director of strip products for Johnson & Johnson. “That’s a fine balance.” Because they use enzymes, strips are delicate. According to Dr. Gebel, exposure to humidity or temperature extremes can damage the enzymes, reducing accuracy. But “strip makers have partly tamed enzymes and increased their life span by incorporating chemicals that stabilize them.” So the colored patch at the end of the strip includes absorbents to soak up blood and enzymes to turn it into electricity and stabilizers to protect the enzymes. Then the elect Continue reading >>
A Diabetes Test You Can Do Yourself
Are you urinating more often, feeling very thirsty, hungry, or tired? Maybe you’re losing weight. You may have type 2 diabetes. To find out, you can make an appointment with your doctor and have your blood tested for the condition. Or you can go to the drug store, buy a blood glucose meter, and give yourself a diabetes test. An estimated 40 percent of adults with type 2 diabetes don’t know they have it, which means they aren’t getting treatment that could protect them from very serious health problems down the road, such as heart disease, stroke, blindness, and kidney failure. The best option is to go to a doctor if you’re having symptoms of diabetes. But if you’re reluctant to do that, for whatever reason, the next best thing is to buy an over-the-counter diabetes test kit. "If you have a family history of diabetes, are obese, or have high blood pressure, you should test yourself for diabetes, if your doctor hasn’t already done so," says Marvin M. Lipman, M.D., Consumer Reports' chief medical adviser. "By being a proactive person, you might save yourself a lot of grief in the future.” Blood glucose meters can be purchased without a prescription. Models in our Ratings of more than two dozen devices cost $10 to $75. They usually come with 10 lancets, but you might have to buy a pack of test strips separately, which can cost $18 and up; check the package to see what it includes. If the meter doesn’t come with strips, make sure you buy a pack made for that model or you’ll get inaccurate results. Most models come with batteries. Here’s what you need to do next: Fast overnight. Don’t have anything to eat or drink (except water) for at least 8 hours, then test yourself first thing in the morning, before breakfast. Follow directions. Read the manual to ma Continue reading >>
At Home A1c Testing Systems & Kits: Review
The A1C, a Glycated hemoglobin, is a form of hemoglobin that is measured primarily to identify the three-month average blood glucose concentration. The A1C test is limited to a three-month average because the lifespan of a red blood cell is only four months. In other words, it’s the indication of your blood sugar level for a three-month period. Typically, your doctor will test your A1C levels every 90 to 180 days depending on how well your blood sugar levels have been managed. In basic terms, the A1C test checks to see how much glucose is attaching to your red blood cells. You can work to keep your A1C within your target range using a recommended diabetes management regimen along with a well-managed diet, exercise routine and other healthy lifestyle . Normal a1C Prediabetes a1C Diabetic a1c Under 5.7 5.7 to 6.4 6.5 and above A1C Test Features and Pricing While most hospital conducted A1C tests cost around $86 per test (depending on your co-pay), you can now buy the A1C self-check home kit for around $40. Each kit includes one test with two strips, but you can buy a double test kit as well. The kits are not reusable so once you use your two lancets, you must buy another kit. Use Most people use this test every 30 days instead of waiting 90 days to be seen by the doctor. This helps patients have a more accurate reading on where their levels fall throughout the month. Insurance Coverage Most insurances will cover 1 or 2 tests per year and some hospitals will have a sample take-home A1C test that you can ask for. However, not all hospitals do so you may still need to buy over the counter kits depending on how many results a year you want to have or how many your doctor requires. Pros and Cons of Home Testing The A1C at home kit needs four large drops of blood which is eas Continue reading >>
Price Of Diabetes Test Strips Will Continue To Increase
Despite new breakthroughs in manufacturing glucose test strips, the cost for diabetes supplies continues to increase. The global Blood Glucose Self-Monitoring (BGSM) market was worth 8.8 billion in 2011, and is continuing to explode. With demand continually increasing, there should be hundreds of manufacturers competing for market share, thus driving the prices down. But over the last 20 years, four companies have managed to gain control over 90% of the BGSM market: Roche, LifeScan, Bayer, and Abbott. In a recent study at Clemson University, new medical equipment could reduce cost of blood-sugar testing for diabetics. I hate to be a pessimist, but that’s not happening anytime soon in the United States. Corrupt politicians and the scumbag lobbyists are in control. Or to say it more bluntly, the FDA will create some bullshit regulation to block out these new competitors. Test strips aren’t like drugs, and it’s not that expensive to manufacture them. But reps from Roche Diagnostics and Johnson & Johnson have said there’s more to test strips than meets the eye. “The cost of our strips includes their research and development, state-of-the-art production, comprehensive quality processes, verification, clinical and analytical performance studies, continued process improvements, and ongoing compliance to all regulatory and government standards,” says Todd Siesky, group manager of communications and external relations at Roche. All true. But it doesn’t account for the absurd rates we’re seeing today. According to David Kliff, founder of DiabeticInvestor.com, “To manufacture the most advanced test strip is no more than 15 cents per strip.” So why does it cost nearly $2 per strip? Manufacturers aren’t stupid; they understand the market for diabetes supplies. Continue reading >>
The Cost Of Diabetes
In July, I went to order a refill of my pump and was refused. My account was overdue, and my pump company wouldn’t issue a refill until I could pay at least $400 of the $1200 I owed. I didn’t have $400. I am a freelance writer and stay-at-home mom with a knack for stretching my husband’s paycheck. I’d been making small monthly payments of about $50 because that was all we could afford, but now they wouldn’t send me any more. So I went to the pharmacy and bought a box of syringes for $25. I didn’t want to go back to multiple daily injections, but I didn’t see that I had a choice. It turns out that I’m not alone. A member of tuDiabetes writes, “I am no longer pumping…the supplies are too expensive, since I am starting my first semester of college. I just can’t afford it…which makes me really sad.” Another member writes, “My survival has come to rely on the kindness of others. Sometimes I have to choose to live without heat in the winter or electricity in order to afford my insulin and test strips. I wait for months and endless hours to attend the free clinic (which is overloaded with patients) and I haven’t seen an endo in years because I can’t afford it. There has to be another way…” One of the first things my pediatrician told my mom when I was diagnosed in 1985, at 14 years old, was that diabetes is one of the most expensive diseases. The expense didn’t really register with me until I graduated from college and was kicked off my parent’s health insurance plan. I had to find a job so that I could pay for test strips, insulin, and syringes instead of new clothes and shoes like my friends. Suddenly I was thrown into the adult world of trying to manage my finances. The cons (money spent on visits to the doctor and medical supplies) w Continue reading >>
8 Things To Consider When Choosing A Blood Glucose Monitor
Test strips are sold separately from glucose monitors and can be pricey.(KRISTEN AFONSO/PRISCILLA DE CASTRO)Blood glucose monitors are devicesabout the size of a cell phone or smallerthat are used to monitor your blood sugar at home. Although they can be mistaken for the latest fancy digital device, these gadgets come with lancets, which are used to poke the finger, and test strips, which is where you place the drop of blood before inserting it into the monitor to get a blood-sugar reading. They range in price from $20 to $70, but are often given away for free by various health-care providers. Companies can afford to give the monitors away for free because they make their money from the glucose strips, which can be pricey$1 or more per strip. If you check your blood sugar as often as you should, you can easily spend more than $100 a month. The vast majority of your cost will come from glucose strips. So when choosing your device, you should pay attention to the cost of the strips, even if the monitor is free. Glucose Meters"This may save your life" Watch videoMore about blood sugar monitoring You may need to select a specific blood glucose monitor because that's what your insurance plan covers. Edith Sciamanna, 79, of Binghamton, N.Y. has the Accu-Chek Advantage for just that reason. "I'm quite satisfied with it," she says. However, if you do have the luxury of choice, there are differences between models that can help you decide (in addition to the cost of the strips). Consider that some systems: Are multisite: This means you can prick yourself not only on the finger but also on the upper arm, forearm, thigh, calf, or fleshy part of the hand. Require smaller samples of blood: The lancet doesn't poke the skin as deeply. Give results in as little as five seconds: This fe Continue reading >>
Medicare Cost-cutting On Diabetes Test Strips Puts Lives At Risk, Study Finds
In Focus Blog Published on: March 18, 2016 Medicare Cost-Cutting on Diabetes Test Strips Puts Lives at Risk, Study Finds The research puts data behind long-simmering complaints from patients and clinicians about availability of diabetes test strips. A competitive bidding program designed to save Medicare money has instead put beneficiaries with diabetes in the hospital, driving up costs for both patients and taxpayers and causing the untimely death of some, according to a study published today in the journal Diabetes Care.1 Study authors called on CMS to halt bidding for diabetes test strips until the programs flaws can be fixed, with one author saying that the rock bottom prices and lack of standards have left beneficiaries low-quality strips from off shore suppliers, which can give inaccurate results. Research by the National Minority Quality Forum puts data behind long-simmering complaints about the availability of diabetes test strips for Medicare patients, which have increased since CMS switched to a competitive bidding program for these critical supplies. Those who use insulin to regulate their diabetes use test strips monitor blood glucose levels several times a day, which help them decide how much insulin they need, to manage their diet, and to avoid episodes of hypoglycemia. CMS started the pilot in 9 test markets in 2011; after CMS declared it a success it was expanded nationwide in 2013. But the study published today reaches a shocking conclusion: armed with the same data available to CMS, the team found that the low reimbursement levels during the pilot programwhich fell from $34 to $14 per vialled to disruptions in supplies, causing some patients to monitor their blood sugar less frequently or not at all. Based on our findings and employing the safety moni Continue reading >>
Cost-effectiveness Of Screening Strategies For Identifying Pediatric Diabetes Mellitus And Dysglycemia.
Cost-effectiveness of screening strategies for identifying pediatric diabetes mellitus and dysglycemia. Division of Pediatric Endocrinology, Child Health Evaluation and Research Unit, University of Michigan Medical School, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48109-5456, USA. JAMA Pediatr. 2013 Jan;167(1):32-9. doi: 10.1001/jamapediatrics.2013.419. OBJECTIVE: To conduct a cost-effectiveness analysis of screening strategies for identifying children with type 2 diabetes mellitus and dysglycemia (prediabetes/diabetes). SETTING: A one-time US screening program. STUDY PARTICIPANTS: A total of 2.5 million children aged 10 to 17 years. INTERVENTION: Screening strategies for identifying diabetes and dysglycemia. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Effectiveness (proportion of cases identified), total costs (direct and indirect), and efficiency (cost per case identified) of each screening strategy based on test performance data from a pediatric cohort and cost data from Medicare and the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. RESULTS: In the base-case model, 500 and 400 000 US adolescents had diabetes and dysglycemia, respectively. For diabetes, the cost per case was extremely high ($312 000-$831 000 per case identified) because of the low prevalence of disease. For dysglycemia, the cost per case was in a more reasonable range. For dysglycemia, preferred strategies were the 2-hour oral glucose tolerance test (100% effectiveness; $390 per case), 1-hour glucose challenge test (63% effectiveness; $571), random glucose test (55% effectiveness; $498), or a hemoglobin A1c threshold of 5.5% (45% effectiveness; $763). Hemoglobin A1c thresholds of 5.7% and 6.5% were the least effective and least efficient (ranges, 7%-32% and $938-$3370) of all strategies evaluated. Sensitivity analyses for diabetes revealed Continue reading >>
Blood Sugar (glucose) Test Strips
How often is it covered? Medicare Part B (Medical Insurance) covers some diabetic test supplies, including blood sugar test strips as durable medical equipment (DME). Who's eligible? All people with Part B who have diabetes are covered. Your costs in Original Medicare If your supplier accepts assignment, you pay 20% of the Medicare-approved amount, and the Part B deductible applies. Medicare pays for different kinds of DME in different ways. Depending on the type of equipment: You may need to rent the equipment. You may need to buy the equipment. You may be able to choose whether to rent or buy the equipment. Medicare will only cover your DME if your doctors and DME suppliers are enrolled in Medicare. Doctors and suppliers have to meet strict standards to enroll and stay enrolled in Medicare. If your doctors or suppliers aren’t enrolled, Medicare won’t pay the claims submitted by them. It’s also important to ask your suppliers if they participate in Medicare before you get DME. If suppliers are participating suppliers, they must accept assignment. If suppliers are enrolled in Medicare but aren’t “participating,” they may choose not to accept assignment. If suppliers don't accept assignment, there’s no limit on the amount they can charge you. Competitive Bidding Program If you live in or visit certain areas, you may be affected by Medicare's Competitive Bidding Program. In most cases, Medicare will only help pay for these equipment and supplies if they're provided by contract suppliers when both of these apply: Contract suppliers can't charge you more than the 20% coinsurance and any unmet yearly deductible for any equipment or supplies included in the Competitive Bidding Program. You may need to use specific suppliers for some types of diabetes testing sup Continue reading >>
How Much Does A Glucose Monitor And Test Strips Cost?
Glucose monitors and the strips you use each time you test your blood vary widely in price. There are about 75 different kinds. Many are covered by insurance, as well as Medicare, so finding one that your doctor recommends, and that your coverage will pay for, can help you obtain one that is affordable. Glucose monitors are not very expensive; they typically retail for between $50 and $100, and you can usually get coupons that offer a substantial discount. Sometimes you can even get a monitor free from your doctor or diabetes educator or the manufacturer. The real expense is the test strips. At full retail, these typically go for about $0.75 per strip or more. Even if you're monitoring just once a day, that's $22.50 per month or $270.00 per year. Because most people benefit from frequent monitoring, at least at some point during their diabetes management, the real cost of monitoring may be substantial. We know many patients who test five or six times per day or even more; that adds up to a lot of money. For many people, the single most important question is whether their insurance plan will cover the cost of a particular meter and strips. If your insurance will pay all or a portion of the cost of a certain brand, it's probably reasonable to go with that brand. Sometimes insurance companies or diabetes suppliers have contracts with brands that aren't as desirable because the meters require a larger drop of blood (meaning you have to stick yourself more deeply), aren't as user-friendly, or don't offer high-tech bells and whistles such as the ability to download the information to a computer. In this case you can either try to persuade your insurer or the supplier to give you a better model or pay for it yourself. Check out a meter's features and tools before you make the Continue reading >>
Tips For Cutting Costs Of Blood Glucose Test Strips
Tips for cutting costs of blood glucose test strips Answers from Peggy Moreland, R.N., C.D.E. In the U.S., you can try these tips to reduce the cost of test strips: Check with insurance or Medicare. Your insurance or Medicare will help to cover the cost of test strips if you have a prescription. Check with them, they may have a contract with a different meter company and you may be paying more than you have to for your test strips. Check with your blood glucose meter company. Many companies have programs or discount cards to help with the cost of testing supplies. The number should be on the back of your meter. Ask your store. Some chains have non-branded meters and testing supplies at a lower cost than branded meters. Patient assistance and outreach programs. Ask your health care provider about resources that may be available to you. Moreland P (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. May 8, 2018. Your Medicare coverage: Blood sugar (glucose) test strips. Accessed May 8, 2018. Tsai A. 4 ways to save on test strips. Accessed May 8, 2018. Everything you need to know about diabetes test strips. Accessed May 8, 2018. Continue reading >>
Millions Of Americans Are At Risk For Diabetes. Here’s How To Get Screened
November is National Diabetes Month. In the U.S., approximately 29.1 million people are living with diabetes (either type 1 or type 2). Medical expenditures for those people are as much as 2.3 times higher than for a person living without diabetes. Diabetes: Type 1, Type 2 and Gestational Type 1 diabetes, previously known as juvenile diabetes, is most often diagnosed in children, teens and young adults. Type 2 diabetes is more common. It makes up about 90-95% of all diagnosed cases of diabetes, yet it’s estimated that in 2015, as many as 7.2 million adults were undiagnosed. That same year, 84.1 million Americans aged 18 and older had prediabetes, which is a precursor to type 2 diabetes. Gestational diabetes develops during pregnancy but often goes away soon after delivery. However, if you’ve ever been diagnosed with gestational diabetes, you and your baby are at a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in life. Fortunately, there are simple and fairly inexpensive (and sometimes even free!) tests that can let you know if you have diabetes or if you’re at risk of developing it later in life. Who Should Get Screened for Diabetes The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends that adults aged 40 to 70 be screened for abnormal blood glucose and diabetes. However, if you or a family member are experiencing what may be symptoms of type 2 diabetes, you should talk to a medical professional about your concerns, regardless of age. (Type 1 diabetes is unlike type 2 in that type 1 is too often diagnosed only when it reaches a critical point, meaning most symptoms may go undetected until a physical crisis occurs. Still, there are symptoms to watch for that may be indicative of type 1 diabetes.) You should consider being screened for type 2 diabetes if you: Are ove Continue reading >>
Diabetes Test Strips: How Much Do They Cost? 15 Cents Or $1.50 Each.
Summary: Diabetes test strips can cost a lot. We heard prices ranging from 15 cents a strip, to $9 for a box of 50 strips (18 cents each) up to $1.50 per strip. A little more than 60 cents a strip is not uncommon. The strips are used by diabetics to test their blood glucose. While sometimes strips are fully covered by insurance, quite often they are not, as we learned in our #PriceCheck project, crowdsourcing health care prices in California. People with diabetes wanted us to know that the high price of test strips quite often meant they were not able to consistently monitor their blood glucose. That was true both for uninsured people and insured people, who said their insurance policies often did not cover strips, or covered fewer than the doctor prescribed, or covered them with a hefty copay. The diabetes test strip price survey is part of our #PriceCheck project, crowdsourcing health care prices with our partners at KQED public radio in San Francisco and KPCC/Southern California Public Radio in Los Angeles, with funding from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. Because they are not testing their blood glucose, some people told us, they felt that they were guessing on treatment — and therefore were more likely to encounter the serious complications that diabetes can bring, like cardiovascular disease, nerve damage, kidney disease, eye damage (including blindness), foot damage (including amputation), skin conditions, hearing impairment and Alzheimer’s disease. Diabetes relates to the way your body uses blood sugar or glucose. If you have diabetes, either Type 1 or Type 2, you have too much glucose in your blood, and that can lead to these complications. (Here’s a great Mayo Clinic discussion of diabetes.) Diabetics commonly measure their blood glucose leve Continue reading >>
Costs Of Screening For Pre-diabetes Among U.s. Adults
A comparison of different screening strategies Abstract OBJECTIVE—We evaluated various strategies to identify individuals aged 45–74 years with pre-diabetes (either impaired glucose tolerance or impaired fasting glucose). RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS—We conducted a cost analysis to evaluate the effectiveness (proportion of cases identified), total costs, and efficiency (cost per case identified) of five detection strategies: an oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT), a fasting plasma glucose (FPG) test, an HbA1c test, a capillary blood glucose (CBG) test, and a risk assessment questionnaire. For the first strategy, all individuals received an OGTT. For the last four strategies, only those with a positive screening test received an OGTT. Data were from the Third U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 2000 census, Medicare, and published literature. One-time screening costs were estimated from both a single-payer perspective and a societal perspective. RESULTS—The proportion of pre-diabetes and undiagnosed diabetes identified ranged from 69% to 100% (12.1–17.5 million). The cost per case identified ranged from $176 to $236 from a single-payer perspective and from $247 to $332 from a societal perspective. Testing all with OGTT was the most effective strategy, but the CBG test and risk assessment questionnaire were the most efficient. If people are substantially less willing to take an OGTT than a FPG test, then the FPG testing strategy was the most effective strategy. CONCLUSIONS—There is a tradeoff between effectiveness and efficiency in choosing a strategy. The most favorable strategy depends on if the goal of the screening program is to identify more cases or to pursue the lowest cost per case. The expected percentage of the population willing to Continue reading >>
Save Money On Blood Glucose Test Strips
Testing your blood sugar regularly is the key to good diabetes control, but testing can get expensive. Ease the stress of managing your diabetes with these practical tips that can stretch your dollars while keeping you on track. Shop around, but steer clear of suspect sources. Online resources such as eBay and Craigslist sometimes offer tough-to-beat prices from people reselling test strips. "I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes about six months ago. I bought my meter and strips at a drugstore right after but was shocked when the test strips cost $49.99 for a box of 50! Once those ran out, I got on eBay and looked for the exact same brand. I found them easily and have now bought two shipments of the same name-brand strips for just over $25, which includes shipping. It's a no-brainer to save $25," says Rich Mullikin of Galveston, Texas. However, most experts advise against buying test strips online because it's a gamble. In most cases, it's hard to know where the strips came from, how they were transported and stored, and whether the strips are defective or expired, says Eileen Wood, R.Ph., vice president of pharmacy services for Capital District Physicians' Health Plan in Albany, New York. Counterfeit strips that produce highly erratic results have even been found. On eBay, some sellers list an expiration date -- but not all do -- and some don't allow returns. "These practices are questionable," Wood says. "I'd feel more comfortable getting test strips from a pharmacy because it has to prove where they got the products, and there is oversight from state and federal licensing authorities." Test strip makers and distributors are required to register with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, but private sellers are not. Go off-brand. Most off-brand strips are as accurate Continue reading >>