2 Ways You Could Save On Blood Sugar Test Strips
Blood sugar testing is a way to keep track of how well diabetes is being managed. Test results help to show how food, physical activity and diabetes medications affect blood sugar. The number of blood sugar tests a person with diabetes may do varies. It depends on the treatment plan. Some people test their blood sugar several times a day. Others test less often. Sometimes extra tests may be needed, such as when starting a new medication or adjusting an insulin dose. Every blood sugar test uses a test strip. Every box of strips usually comes with a cost–typically a 20% co-insurance payment after the Part B deductible. It could be tempting to skip tests if strips start to cost too much. Medicare understands how important regular testing is to diabetes self-management. There is now a competitive bidding process that helps Medicare select suppliers that meet its standards for the quality and cost of diabetic supplies. Here are two ways that you can get the blood sugar test strips you need at the lower cost that Medicare’s competitive bidding process offers. 1. Order blood sugar test strips from a Medicare contracted mail-order supplier. Medicare has a mail-order program for diabetic testing supplies. Medicare sets the amount it will pay based on bids from suppliers. Contracted suppliers may not charge you more than 20% co-insurance on the Medicare-approved amount. You can enter your zip code to find a supplier on the Medicare web site. Check the box for “Mail-Order Diabetic Supplies,” then scroll down and click the Search button. You’ll get a list of contracted suppliers. You’ll need to check each supplier to see which ones carry what you need. You can usually transfer your prescription to any supplier. Test strips or other diabetic supplies you order can then b Continue reading >>
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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 >>
Comparing The Cost Of Diabetes Test Strips At Major Retailers
Where’s the best place to buy blood glucose monitor test strips over-the-counter? And which test strips are the most affordable? We took a look at the top blood sugar test strip costs at a few of the major retailers to see what the best deals are. Hands down, the ReliOn brand of test strips is the most affordable if you’re paying for test strips out-of-pockt at a meager 18 cents per strip (in a 50 count box) at Walmart and 35 cents (in a 50 count box) if you buy on Amazon. However, it’s only available at Walmart (and Amazon), so that can make it difficult if there isn’t a Walmart in your area. The next most affordable test strip is the Bayer Contour Next, which came it between 77 cents and 86 cents per strip in their 50 count boxes if you buy them at a brick-and-mortar store, or 24 cents per strip on Amazon. Lifescan’s One Touch Ultra Blue, Roche’s Accuchek Aviva, and Abbott’s Freestyle Lite came in at well over a dollar a strip at all the major pharmacy retailers, but all of them in under a dollar a strip if you buy on Amazon. Roche’s Accuchek Aviva came in as the most expensive test strip at every retailer, except Amazon, where it came in a whole 5 cents cheaper than One Touch Ultra Blue. Amazon is for the most part the most affordable place to buy your test strips out-of-pocket, unless you’re buying Walmart’s ReliOn test strips. In that case, you’re better off just driving to Walmart. Here’s the full breakdown: Walmart One Touch Ultra Blue – 50 count: $68.79 / $1.37 per strip Freestyle Lite – 50 count: $81.64 / $1.63 per strip Bayer Contour Next – 50 count: $38.88 / $.77 per strip ReliOn Prime – 50 count: $9.00 / $.18 per strip AccuChek Aviva Plus – 50 count: $82.27 / $1.64 per strip Walgreens One Touch Ultra Blue – 50 count: $79.9 Continue reading >>
Blood Glucose Strips: Cost & Availability Complaints
After talking to many diabetics about their experiences and reading hundreds of comments from users on consumer sites like Amazon, the two most common complaints concerning a glucometer are cost and availability. In this article, we’ll discuss the reasons these two complaints are common and discuss how you might combat these issues. Complaint One: The Cost Most glucometers cost around $20, though you can certainly find devices much more expensive with features like Bluetooth to pair the device with a smartphone app. However, the greatest cost to you is the test strips, and for good reason. Blood glucose test strips are technologically impressive for their size. Most test strips feature costly materials like real gold and expensive chemicals designed to convert the glucose in your blood to an electrical current. The glucometer is then able to analyze the conductivity to determine the blood glucose level. Testing your blood is a complex practice in quantum mechanics and electrochemistry. So it makes sense for test strips to cost a pretty penny. That said, you’ll find a huge disparity when it comes to the cost of test strips from device to device, and brand to brand. As I mentioned in the introduction, you can find test strips that cost $0.12 per strip and you can find test strips that cost more than $2 per test strip. To put this cost into perspective, imagine testing your blood four times a day on average. Many diabetics test more than this. It’s not uncommon to test six times a day – once before and once after each meal. But some diabetics may only test their blood when they feel hyperglycemic or hypoglycemic. However, for the sake of easy math, we’re going to use the four-times-a-day scenario, which is about 120 strips per month or 1,456 test strips a year. W Continue reading >>
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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 >>
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 >>
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 >>
#pricecheck: When Diabetes Test Strips Are Too Expensive
Through our #PriceCheck project, we're crowdsourcing the cost of common medical procedures and devices. This time around, we're asking about the cost of diabetes test strips. Mark's story Mark Winters, 66, answered our call. A longtime tennis player and writer, Winters has had Type 1 diabetes for more than 60 years. He told me it would be best if he checked his blood sugar four times a day. Instead, he says, he generally tests once in the morning and once at night. He's had diabetes for so long, he says, that he's very good at maintaining his blood sugar through nutrition and exercise. Still, he concedes, "I should test more – but I don't, because I can't afford it." 'Immoral' costs Diabetics can't necessarily just choose the cheapest strip on the market; there are a variety of glucose meters, and each one requires its own specific test strip. Winters buys the Accu-Chek brand of test strips for his Accu-Chek Aviva meter. He's uninsured, and has paid for them out of pocket for years. (That will finally change at the start of 2015, when he'll go on Medicare.) But in recent years, he's struggled to afford his test strips, as the cost has jumped - from roughly 33 cents a strip at Target, to more than a dollar, he says. So he took to the Internet to find a better deal: Boxes of 50 strips for about $31.50 per box, including shipping - a little more than 60 cents per strip. "The situation with the pricing of diabetic necessities has become more than worrisome; gouging for a profit is immoral," Winters wrote in an email to Impatient. He wonders what happens to other people who can't afford to test as often as necessary, and don't manage their condition as meticulously as he does. A larger problem Winters has reason to wonder. I spoke with Kathleen Wall, who was a certified di Continue reading >>
Cost Of Self-monitoring Of Blood Glucose In The United States Among Patients On An Insulin Regimen For Diabetes.
Abstract BACKGROUND: People with diabetes are at an increased risk of developing numerous complications, resulting in increased health care expenditures, economic burden, and higher mortality. For patients using an insulin pump or multiple insulin injections, self-monitoring of blood glucose (SMBG) is recognized as a core component of effective diabetes self-management. However, little is known about the real-world frequency and true costs associated with SMBG as a percentage of an insulin regimen in the United States. OBJECTIVE: To evaluate SMBG frequency, SMBG-related costs (including blood glucose test strips and testing supplies), and insulin therapy costs among insulin-dependent patients with diabetes and at least 1 pharmacy claim for blood glucose testing strips during a 12-month follow-up period. METHODS: A retrospective database analysis was conducted using the IMS LifeLink Health Plan Claims database to capture the frequency and costs associated with SMBG in relation to a specific insulin regimen, and SMBG expenditure compared with other treatment costs. The study employed a retrospective cohort analysis of patients with 2 or more claims for insulin between January 1, 2007, and June 30, 2009, with the first such claim representing the index date. All patients were required to have 6 months of pre-index continuous enrollment (pre-index period) and 12 months of post-index continuous enrollment (follow-up period). Patients were also required to have a diagnosis of diabetes in the pre-index period and to have no gaps of more than 90 days between consecutive insulin claims during the 360-day follow-up period. Patients without at least 1 pharmacy claim for blood glucose testing strips during the 12-month follow-up period and patients with pharmacy claims with extreme Continue reading >>
Printing Low-cost Glucose Test Strips On Paper
Imagine just being able to fire up an inkjet printer and print out perfectly usable glucose test strips. Ah, the money that could be saved, among other things! It may seem off-the-wall strange, but a startup company that began almost three years ago as a Clemson University student research project in South Carolina, Accessible Diagnostics, is developing what it calls GlucoSense, a new type of test strip made out of commonly-available materials that costs just pennies to make in comparison to what’s out there now. We also happened to hear of a Bangalore company developing silk-weaved strips featured in a recent NPR story, with hopes of rolling out their offering by year’s end. These efforts come at a time when both health care costs and the rates of diabetes are skyrocketing in the U.S. and around the world — meaning more people than ever need glucose strips, while fewer have affordable access these essential diabetes supplies. Since GlucoSense is led by in large part by a young type 1, just finishing grad school, we couldn’t wait to find out more. A Solution for Tanzania The Chief Technology Officer is 24-year-old Kayla Gainey, fellow type 1 who was diagnosed at age 2. Kayla got involved at Clemson when she went to speak to her professor, Dr. Delphine Dean, about graduate school and a possible summer internship. She heard about the research project aimed at helping those with diabetes in the East African country Tanzania, where diabetes supplies are far from accessible. Dean had met with the country’s leader, who told her about the huge diabetes problem there and how even donated supplies don’t help much because the meters and strips are often mismatched, and cannot be used together. So, Dean came back with this idea and soon enough had roughly a dozen stude 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 >>
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 >>
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 >>
When Do You Need A Prescription For Diabetic Test Strips?
When Do You Need A Prescription for Diabetic Test Strips? Whether or not you need a prescription to purchase diabetic test strips depends on one thing. Read this article to find out how it all works. If you’re one of the 29 million Americans living with diabetes, you likely have a lot of questions about how to get the medication you need. We’re sure you also have questions about how you can keep the costs of supplies, test strips, lancets, and hospital visits down. Even if you’re working out and taking care of yourself, you may feel like you can’t do much to fight back against the rising costs of life with diabetes. In this post, we’ll talk about whether or not you need a prescription to get diabetic test strips. We’ll also talk about how the cost of diabetes is different for the insured and the uninsured diabetes patient. No matter what your coverage is like, it’s always a smart idea to look for bargains, ways to save, and ways to make back some of the money you’ve spent on diabetic test strips. Read this post to learn how to save better. The Costs Of Diabetes: Insured vs. Uninsured There’s no getting around it: life with diabetes is costly. In fact, recent figures show that the average yearly cost for one person living with diabetes is about $13,700. Unfortunately, that same study showed that those without health insurance who are living with a diabetes diagnosis get 68% fewer prescriptions, and 79% fewer doctor visits, than those that are insured. Though most states have made sure insurance companies are required to cover medical costs and supplies, you still have to do a good amount of work to get certain things covered by your plan. You may even have to write them letters just to make back a small portion of what you spend on supplies like diabeti Continue reading >>
A 'gray Market' For Diabetes Supplies Highlights The Cost Of Care
A 'Gray Market' For Diabetes Supplies Highlights The Cost of Care Bram Sable-Smith / KBIA/Side Effects Public Media When Tim Rushing turned 50 last year, his doctor called him in for a check-up. They did a physical, ran some tests, and found out that Rushing had Type 2 diabetes. No surprises there, Rushing says. Both my parents are Type 2 diabetics. He knew from watching his parents that monitoring his blood sugar would be essential to managing the disease. What Rushing didnt realize was how much that monitoring would cost. Depending on the type of diabetes, diabetics check their blood sugar anywhere from one to eight times a day. Its a ritual they know well: prick your finger, draw a little blood and place it on a disposable plastic test strip that gets read by a meter. One test, one strip. Americas 21 million diabetics spend close to $4 billion dollars every year on test strips. Because of their price, though a single strip can cost over $1 an informal, gray market has emerged where diabetics like Rushing can buy the strips more cheaply, but without oversight from the Food and Drug Administration. Rushing wanted to test frequently, hoping to manage his blood sugars that way. But his insurance only covered one test a day. Additional strips would cost him $1 each, cash. At the rate he used them, that would add up to $180 a month. So I started looking online and found I could get a box of 50 test strips on Amazon for 12 bucks, Rushing says. That comes out to about 25 cents a strip, a fraction of the price. Thats what Ive been doing ever since. Ive never even filled my prescription, he says. Rushing found a workaround to pay for his extra test strips. But even for diabetics who only check once a day, without insurance, costs can be prohibitive. Even if you just check onc Continue reading >>