- Diseases, Disorders & Conditions
Why Diabetes Test Strips are So Expensive
Diabetes Test Strips are the Most Expensive RX for Diabetics
I have been diabetic for nearly 10 years. I have Type 1 diabetes, which means that I am 100% insulin dependent and there is no "cure" for my disease, no matter how much I diet or exercise. An auto-immune reaction attacked the healthy beta cells in my pancreas, killing them off for good so that they will never make insulin again.
Because insulin is such a powerful drug, it is easy to overdose, causing life threatening hypoglycemia. Type 1 diabetics must calculate the amount of insulin to dose, based on a number of factors including: (1) how many carbohydrates will be ingested; (2) how long it has been since the last insulin shot; (3) activity level; and (4) stress level.
Nope. You can dose yourself and own a meter and lancet to poke your finger to measure blood sugar levels. However, without diabetes test strips, a diabetic cannot effectively manage this serious disease. Inexplicably, the test strips are the most expensive item that is required for diabetics to properly manage their disease.
I find this frustrating, to say the least. Not only because I am out-of-pocket additional funds (even with health insurance it runs me about $75 per month), but because my insurance company doubts my dedication to frequent testing to keep me healthy - and alive. Every time, I seek to refill my prescription, I get grief.
Why is this? Why are diabetes test strips so expensive?
Some People Sell Excess Diabetes Test Strips
I have been so frustrated with the expense of diabetes test strips. Then I realized that part of the reason is that people are selling excess test strips online.
That fact adversely impacts people like me who prefer to test their blood sugar frequently to best manage the disease. As a result of people selling test strips on the "black market," in part because insurance companies make them so expensive and difficult to obtain. I cannot help but think that if diabetes test strips were priced reasonably, there would not be a market for people to find cheap alternatives.
In the end, the only people that are hurt are those that try to closely monitor and treat their diabetes. Ironically, it is these patients that take better care of themselves, which results in fewer complications and expenses related to diabetes.
I do not Advise People Selling Excess Diabetes Test Strips
Why Diabetics Need Ample Test Strips
Even though insurance companies make it difficult to obtain a sufficient number of diabetes test strips, it seems that they have put the premium on the wrong product. Making blood sugar meters more expensive makes much more sense. After all, if diabetics properly monitor and treat their disease, there are fewer long term health costs.
For Type 1 (insulin dependent) diabetes, professionals recommend that the patient test before and 2 hours after each meal. This way, proper insulin dosing can be calculated and administered. If you test before a meal, you can determine whether your blood glucose levels are high, low, or normal. Then, adjustments can be made for dosing with respect to the food and/or drink you will be ingesting.
When you test 2 hours after eating, you can find out whether you gave yourself too much, or not enough, insulin and make an immediate correction. Some blood sugar meters have smart features whereby they will calculate the last bolus (shot) of insulin you took and determine the amount of active insulin remaining in your body.
My doctor has prescribed that I test my blood sugar 10-12 times a day. This allows me to test before and after each meal, plus at least 4 additional times every day when I exercise, before and after I drive some place, and to allow for errors in testing, which frequently occur.
The only problem is that my insurance initially only approved me for 3 test strips per day! In my opinion, that is the bare minimum for Type 2 diabetics who are not insulin dependent.
What is the Average Cost of Diabetes Test Strips?
Generally speaking, diabetes test strips cost about $1 each.
Depending on how often your doctor prescribes testing and your insurance policy, the monthly cost of diabetes test strips can range from $60-200. Over the course of a year, that adds up to $720-2,400, or even higher.
But get this surprising statistic from diabetesmine.com:
According to D-industry consultant David Kliff, the actual cost of manufacturing a test strip is only about 8 to 12 cents. But the R&D, logistics, quality testing and packaging costs jack up the price. Still, the vendors make about a 60-80% profit on each box, or possibly even higher, Kliff says. Yikes!
Who other than me is outraged?
Using Diabetes Test Strips
What can you do about the high cost of diabetes test strips?
Unfortunately, with insurance companies cutting down on the amount of benefits offered, the economy still floundering and people generally suspicious about legitimate medical claims, it is more difficult to get reimbursement for the cost of diabetes test strips.
The best thing you can do as a diabetic, or the friend/family member of one, is to ensure that minimal numbers of test strips are used on a daily basis. Of course, you do not wish to endanger yourself or the patient. However, testing smart can help save a few test strips each day.
Make sure that you obtain ample blood for a sugar test without an error message. Unless you feel very sick, test no more often than once per hour during times of extreme high and low blood sugar.
In addition, keep your doctor and loved ones fully informed about your current diabetic condition. If you believe that you are not testing frequently enough, advise your endocrinologist so that they can revise a prescription for you. Any time your exercise, eating habits, or weight changes, this may impact the amount of insulin required, which may warrant additional blood sugar testing.
People Looking for Excess Diabetes Test Strips
Do You Use Diabetic Test Strips?
© 2012 Stephanie Hicks