How to get free diabetic supplies
If you’re one of the 30 million Americans living with diabetes, chances are you’ve noticed how expensive the supplies necessary to treat the condition are. From glucose meters to syringes, test strips, and insulin pumps, the cost of a diabetes diagnosis can add up. Self-monitoring of blood glucose with test strips alone can cost upwards of 25% of all diabetes and insulin supply costs, with the price of products varying dramatically between brands.
Fortunately, there are several ways people can save on the supplies they need to treat and manage diabetes, and in some cases, get free diabetic supplies.
How to get free diabetic supplies
It’s no secret that the price of medical supplies can add up. We’ve put together this information to help you understand the various cost-efficient methods of getting discounted or free diabetic supplies. Some savings methods we’ll cover in more detail include:
- Free products from drug manufacturers
- Patient assistance programs and other non-profits
- Veteran benefits
- Insurance, Medicare, or Medicaid coverage
- State savings programs for residents
A glucose meter is an essential product for anyone with diabetes. It’s a medical device that measures the levels of glucose in the blood so you can properly manage your diabetes. Glucose meter prices can range from $60 to $ on average.
One of the easiest ways to get a free glucose meter is to contact the manufacturer directly. The majority of manufacturers offer free glucose monitors as a way to entice patients to purchase other brand-name supplies, such as glucose test strips, through the manufacturer. Contour, for example, offers free meters.
With that in mind, before selecting which free glucose meter you’d like, be sure to compare the prices of the manufacturer’s other diabetes products, particularly its test strips. Also, compare prices and programs at your local pharmacy, as you can purchase over-the-counter glucometers without a prescription.
Some brands you may want to consider reaching out to for free blood glucose meters include:
RELATED:How to save on the Freestyle Libre with SingleCare
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A needled syringe is used by people with diabetes to inject insulin.
In most U.S. states, patients can purchase insulin syringes without a prescription. However, age restrictions and limits on quantities can vary, so be sure to check the regulations and rules in your state. As with glucose monitors, one way to reduce the cost of insulin syringes is to go directly to the manufacturer. Some manufacturers also offer patient assistance programs, although some eligibility requirements apply.
It can also be beneficial to purchase syringes in bulk to reduce the cost per unit.
Medicare Part D also covers syringes. To access this prescription drug coverage, you must enroll in a Medicare drug program. If you are eligible, Medicare Part D covers syringes used to administer insulin; however, you may still need to pay coinsurance or copayment. A Medicare Part D deductible may also apply.
Diabetes test strips
Diabetes test strips are a fast, easy way to test your blood glucose levels. Knowing your blood sugar levels is essential to treating diabetes and helps you manage your condition effectively.
Glucose test strips are one of the most expensive supplies required to monitor and treat diabetes. They can be purchased without a prescription at the pharmacy, online, and directly through the manufacturer. Prices can vary significantly from 15 cents to $ per strip, so we recommend shopping around to find the best deal.
One way to save is to buy test strips in bulk. Although it does mean a considerable initial outlay of cash, it does lower the cost per strip.
If you have Medicare Part B, you may also be eligible for coverage on glucose test strips, as they are considered durable medical equipment (DME). You’ll only be covered, however, if both your healthcare provider and DME supplier have enrolled in Medicare. The Part B deductible applies, plus you pay 20% of the Medicare-approved price.
Many insurers will also cover diabetes test strips; however, they can still be expensive due to deductibles and copays. Be sure to check which brands your insurer covers, as some only allow coverage for preferred brands, and also make sure these brands will work with your blood glucose meter.
An insulin pump is used most commonly by those with type 1 diabetes. It’s a small, battery-operated device that stores and releases insulin. These pumps help mimic the way a healthy pancreas would usually function and are considered an expensive but convenient alternative to taking insulin injections multiple times a day.
Insulin infusion pumps are one of the more expensive options to treat diabetes. They reportedly cost about $4, per person per year without insurance, not including additional costs for supplies, which can exceed $1,
Insulin pumps can be covered by insurance, depending on your health plan. However, many insurers will only cover one pump every few years, so be prepared to keep your pump in working condition for some time.
Other ways people save on their pumps is to purchase directly from the manufacturer or to apply to patient assistance programs.
MedicAlert bracelets, otherwise known as medical identification tags, are worn by people who live with certain medical conditions, such as diabetes. The tags bear personal information about the persons medical condition or allergies, should they be unable to speak, and require urgent medical attention. It helps emergency medical responders effectively treat the person.
They can be the difference between life and death, and fortunately, are available at a low cost. Some insurance plans may even reimburse you for the cost of your bracelet. There are many options available, with the most popular being stainless steel. Prices can range from just a few dollars, up to $ for more elaborate, hi-tech solutions.
Some non-profits, like the Diabetes Research & Wellness Foundation, provide free diabetes ID necklaces upon request.
Frequently asked questions about diabetes supplies
How do I get my diabetic supplies through Medicare?
Diabetic supplies can be eligible for coverage under Medicare Part B and Part D. However, you may not get free diabetic supplies with Medicare. You may still have to pay a copay and deductible, but the cost could still be less than it would without Medicare or other insurance.
Can you claim disability for diabetes?
In some cases, you can claim disability for diabetes; however, not everyone qualifies. Generally, you must have uncontrolled diabetes or serious health problems due to an inability to control your diabetes to receive disability benefits.
Where can I get free insulin?
Over the last few years, the cost of insulin has skyrocketed. If you are struggling to pay for your insulin, three drug manufacturers may offer immediate prescription assistance: Eli Lilly, Novo Nordisk, and Sanofi. The American Diabetes Association has more information on how to access cheaper insulin through manufacturers.
How can you buy diabetes care products online?
There are several ways to buy diabetes care products online. Big-box retailers, pharmacies like Walgreens and CVS, and online retailers all offer extensive options of diabetes care supplies such as test strips. You can also access free coupons from SingleCare to reduce the cost of these supplies.
How SingleCare can help you save on diabetic supplies
SingleCare is most known for helping people access lower prescription drug prices. However, we also provide some of the best prices available on diabetic supply products, including test strips, syringes, and glucometers like the Freestyle Libre Reader.
Search for the diabetic supplies you need at singlecare.com, find the lowest price, and show the SingleCare coupon at your pharmacy to start saving today.
Top 10 Diabetes Carrying Cases
When you’re diagnosed with diabetes, you don’t realize how much STUFF you have to always carry with you wherever you go. The items only multiple as time goes on and more treatment methods are added, etc. So where are you supposed to keep everything from your meter, to extra test strips, emergency medications and more?
For women, you can opt to keep everything in your purse, but most often this can become disorganized and only creates additional frustration when you have to find everything in a pinch. In this guide we’re going to take a look at some of the best diabetes carrying cases on the market for those with all types of diabetes and of any age.
If you haven’t found a case yet, then this guide can help start you on your journey of purchasing the right one. Or if it’s time to update your case, you may find one that suits your needs. I know with my kids with Type 1 diabetes, in the beginning I would have to purchase a new case every few months because of the wear and tear from carrying them virtually 24/7 no matter where we go. That was before I knew which were some of the best ones that not only provide you with somewhere to nicely keep all supplies organized but are durable enough to withstand frequent use. Here are some of my all-time favorites.
1. Medicool Dia-Pak
The Medicool Dia-Pak allows you to conveniently keep all your supplies in one organized place. What’s nice about this diabetes carrying case is it comes with a freezable ice pack that allows you to keep your insulin or other supplies cool when traveling. Keeping everything together in one bag without bulkiness can be tricky, especially when it comes to making sure you have all the supplies you may need.
The Medicool Dia-Pak folds up nicely to fit into a purse, travel bag, suitcase, or even carried separately. There’s even an option to attach the case to your belt directly. Padded pockets help to keep all important devices such as your meter, receiver or others safe and secure.
You can order yours on Amazon.
2. Myabetic Banting Diabetes Supply Case
Myabetic has surely made a name for itself in the diabetes case industry. They offer a ton of unique and stylish cases that don’t look like your traditional diabetes supply bags. Each case is large enough to hold all of your essential supplies while still making sure you stay organized and stylish.
Inside the Banting bag for example there are three elastics, a Velcro pocket, a removable waste pouch and a mesh pocket that zippers. The removable waste pouch is great for used test strips and lancets when you are on the go and have no access to a proper disposable system.
You can order it for best price on Amazon.
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3. Goldwheat Portable Insulin Cooler Bag Organizer Travel Pack
It can be tough to find a useful way of keeping your insulin cool when you are away from home. The Goldwheat Portable Insulin cooler bag uses high quality tin foil to provide good insulation for your insulin which insures it stays cool when you do not have access to proper refrigeration. Its small size makes it more convenient to carry.
The 2 included ice packs must be placed in the refrigerator for more than 12 hours before using the carry bag. It can be used with both insulin pens and vials.
4. Duragadget Rigid Insulin Shell Storage and Travel Case
A high quality black EA case provides a durable way of transporting medical supplies. A soft felt lining helps to make sure the contents are protected while the durable outer shell provides the most maximum protection for all inside supplies. A netting storage compartment and included belt clip can provide a more convenient way of transporting your supplies. An elastic inside Velcro strap can provide extra security.
5. Diabetes Organizer for Glucose Tablets and Other Supplies
This diabetes organizer was designed for those with type 1 and type 2 diabetes. It fits all blood glucose meters are the market by ensuring they are secured in a bag using 3M Velcro straps. There are many mesh pockets and even elastic loops that are created to provide storage for test strips, glucose meters and insulin vials. An attached interior loop was designed to hold glucose tablets.
6. Leather Diabetes Supply Case from BeticBag
This highly constructed leather case provides enough room for all supplies including insulin vials and pens. There is even additional room for credit and debit cards so that you only have to carry one wallet. An oblong shaped pocket helps to provide a place to store cash and an attached wrist strap can help you to keep your case secure in place while you carry it. It can also be tucked away inside to be out of the way. The case holds 2 insulin vials, a blood glucose meter, lancing device up to 10 syringes and other supplies.
7. Sugar Medical Ryan Mini Meter Diabetes Bag
This is a great compact bag for anyone but particularly for teens and young adults with type 1 or type 2 diabetes. You can fit all current glucose meters that are on the market by keeping them secure using a 3M Velcro strip. Inside mesh interior pockets hold supplies such as medications, lancets and alcohol swabs. Elastic loops help to keep test strips and lancing devices secure. The bag is a small but versatile solution to holding your diabetes supplies while on the go.
8. Love Bug Diabetes Supply Case by Myabetic
The Love Bug bag makes a great case for young girls with diabetes. It allows them to have a cute and stylish case to carry all essential supplies such as lancet needs, test strips, blood glucose meter, insulin pens, infusion sets, lancing devices, syringes and even a pouch that zippers for used test strips and lancets. Interior oval shaped pockets can be removed to make more space.
9. Dittibag Diabetes Supply Case
Exterior pockets with Velcro attached help to hold alcohol wipes and other smaller diabetic supplies. Inside elastic bands secure a blood glucose meter a drum of test strips and even a lancing device. The Dittibag makes a great bag for shorter trips and weekend stays for those on the go. It works as a carry all diabetic travel bag for all necessary supplies.
Indoor/ Outdoor Sling Bag
The sling bag isn’t necessarily a diabetes supply bag but it makes a wonderful solution for keeping all items properly together. It provides multiple storage compartments. There are two larger compartments with zippers and smaller inside pouches. Each zipper on the bag has a plastic pull on it so it can be easily gripped. The larger zipper compartment can even old a bottle or tablet.
Keeping all your diabetes supplies together and organized at home is difficult enough due to the sheer quantity of supplies you need. But trying to put everything you need away from home together in one place can be even trickier. Having a supply case that offers you plenty of solutions such as secure zippered pouches, places to put used strips and lancets, and even insulated or cooled pouches for insulin can help to provide you with a secure and convenient place to keep all of your supplies with you while on the go. The above cases offer a variety of options so that you can ensure you always have the supplies you need to help manage your diabetes even when you are away from home.
TheDiabetesCouncil Article | Reviewed by Dr. Jerry Ramos MD on June 01,
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The Strange Marketplace for Diabetes Test Strips
It is legal to resell unused test strips for blood glucose, and many patients do, driving an unusual trade online and on the streets.
On most afternoons, people arrive from across New York City with backpacks and plastic bags filled with boxes of small plastic strips, forming a line on the sidewalk outside a Harlem storefront.
Hanging from the awning, a banner reads: “Get cash with your extra diabetic test strips.”
Each strip is a laminate of plastic and chemicals little bigger than a fingernail, a single-use diagnostic test for measuring blood sugar. More than 30 million Americans have Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes, and most use several test strips daily to monitor their condition.
But at this store on W. th Street, each strip is also a lucrative commodity, part of an informal economy in unused strips nationwide. Often the sellers are insured and paid little out of pocket for the strips; the buyers may be underinsured or uninsured, and unable to pay retail prices, which can run well over $ for a box of strips.
Some clinicians are surprised to learn of this vast resale market, but it has existed for decades, an unusual example of the vagaries of American health care. Unlike the resale of prescription drugs, which is prohibited by law, it is generally legal to resell unused test strips.
And this store is far from the only place buying. Mobile phones light up with robo-texts: “We buy diabetic test strips!” Online, scores of companies thrive with names like TestStripSearch.com and QuickCash4TestStrips.com.
“I’m taking advantage, as are my peers, of a loophole,” said the owner of one popular site, who asked that his name not be used. “We’re allowed to do that. I don’t even think we should be, frankly.”
Test strips were first developed in to provide an immediate reading of blood sugar, or glucose, levels. The user pricks a finger, places a drop of blood on the strip, and inserts it into a meter that provides a reading.
The test strips were created for use in doctors’ offices, but by medical-device manufacturers had designed meters for home use. They became the standard of care for many people with diabetes, who test their blood as often as ten times a day.
Test strips are a multi-billion-dollar industry. A study found that among insulin-dependent patients who monitor their blood sugar, strips accounted for nearly one-quarter of pharmacy costs. Today, four manufacturers account for half of global sales.
In a retail pharmacy, name-brand strips command high prices. But like most goods and services in American health care, that number doesn’t reflect what most people pay.
The sticker price is the result of behind-the-scenes negotiations between the strips’ manufacturer and insurers. Manufacturers set a high list price and then negotiate to become an insurer’s preferred supplier by offering a hefty rebate.
These transactions are invisible to the insured consumer, who might cover a copay, at most. But the arrangement leaves the uninsured — those least able to pay — paying sky-high sticker prices out of pocket. Also left out are the underinsured, who may need to first satisfy a high deductible.
For a patient testing their blood many times a day, paying for strips out-of-pocket could add up to thousands of dollars a year. Small wonder, then, that a gray market thrives. The middlemen buy extras from people who obtained strips through insurance, at little cost to themselves, and then resell to the less fortunate.
That was the opportunity that caught Chad Langley’s eye. He and his twin brother launched the website Teststripz.com to solicit test strips from the public for resale. Today they buy strips from roughly 8, people; their third-floor office in Reading, Mass., receives around deliveries a day.
The amount the Langleys pay depends on the brand, expiration date and condition, but the profit margins are reliably high. For example, the brothers will pay $35 plus shipping for a count box of the popular brand Freestyle Lite in mint condition.
The Langleys sell the box for $ CVS, by contrast, retails the strips for $
The Langleys are mainly buying up excess strips from insured patients who have been flooded with them, sometimes even when not medically necessary.
Although patients who manage their diabetes with non-insulin medications or with diet and exercise needn’t test their blood sugar daily, a recent analysis of insurance claims found that nearly one in seven patients still used test strips regularly.
‘It’s a tiny little piece of plastic that’s super cheap to manufacture, and they’ve managed to make a cash cow out of it.’
The market glut is also a consequence of a strategy adopted by manufacturers to sell patients proprietary meters designed to read only their brand of strips. If a patient’s insurer shifts her to a new brand, she must get a new meter, often leaving behind a supply of useless strips.
While some resellers use websites like Amazon or eBay to market strips directly to consumers, the biggest profits are in returning them to retail pharmacies, which sell them as new and bill the customer’s insurance the full price.
The insurer reimburses the pharmacy the retail price and then demands a partial rebate from the manufacturer — but it’s a rebate the manufacturer has paid already for this box of strips.
Glenn Johnson, general manager for market access at Abbott Diabetes Care, which makes about one in five strips purchased in the United States, said manufacturers lose more than $ million in profits a year this way, much of it in New York, California and Florida.
The company supported a new California law that prohibits pharmacies from acquiring test strips from any but an authorized list of distributors. Mr. Johnson said he has spoken with lawmakers about similar efforts in Florida, New Jersey, New York and Ohio.
Such measures leave intact the inflated retail prices that make the gray market possible and which critics say benefit manufacturers and their retail intermediaries, pharmacy benefit managers.
In a lawsuit against P.B.M.’s and the dominant test strip manufacturers filed in New Jersey, consumer advocates presented data showing that the average wholesale price for test strips has risen as much as 70 percent over the last decade.
They alleged that this has allowed the defendants to pocket an unfair portion of the rebates. The price of a strip would be much lower if it wasn’t fattened by profiteering, said Gretchen Obrist, one of the lawyers who brought the case.
“It’s a tiny little piece of plastic that’s super cheap to manufacture, and they’ve managed to make a cash cow out of it,” she said.
To justify the rising price of strips, manufacturers point to advances in engineering that have made the strips smaller and more convenient to use. But there is little evidence those features have improved health outcomes for people with diabetes — and with increasingly unaffordable prices, the newfangled test strips may be even less accessible.
The markups on strips look particularly stark when compared to the cost of producing them.
“Test strips are basically printed, like in a printing press,” said David Kliff, who publishes a newsletter on diabetes. “It’s not brain surgery.”
He estimated the typical test strip costs less than a dime to make.
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