Diabetes Test Strips: Why Are They So Expensive?

Photo by: Bigstockphoto
Photo by: Bigstockphoto

Diabetes is a metabolic disease caused by elevated blood sugar level. If left untreated, it causes a variety of complications – including heart disease, kidney failure, and blindness.

There are three types of diabetes. Type 1 diabetes requires complete dependent on insulin shots. A person with type 1 diabetes is unable to produce enough insulin to process sugar in the blood. Type 2 diabetes is a condition where the cells no longer respond to insulin properly. When the body becomes insulin resistant, it can no longer process blood sugar level. Gestational diabetes is common among pregnant women. It occurs when a person has a history of diabetes or have high blood glucose level.

The Importance of Self-Testing

Self-testing is a critical part of a diabetic’s life, particularly those that are afflicted with type-1 diabetes. Without a diabetes monitoring tool, a diabetic cannot manage the disease effectively.

For instance, a type-1 diabetic has to test his blood sugar before each meal and two hours after the meal. Using the strip before a meal, the blood glucose level is measured as high, low or normal. Through self-testing, a diabetic can adjust the kind of food or drink he consumes to maintain normal blood sugar level. Two hours after testing, a person will know if he had too much or enough insulin. He can make the corrections according to the results of the test. By tracking the blood sugar level, it cuts the risk of complications. It also leads to fewer long-term health costs.

Why Diabetes Strips are Expensive?

Unfortunately, diabetes test strips are quite expensive especially if one has to test his blood sugar level frequently. One diabetes test strip cost $1. But if you test yourself often, the price easily goes up to $200 per month. Over the course of a year, a diabetic will spend more than $2,000 on the strips alone!

It’s normal for a type 1 diabetic to test for blood glucose ten to twelve times per day. Additional testing is needed for those who exercise or engage in physical activities. But some insurance companies only approve three diabetes strips per day. This is the bare minimum for type 2 diabetics. Because insurance companies make the strips so expensive, people turn to the black market to buy them in bulk.

Different factors affect the price of the strips: cutting costs, unstable economy and authorities growing suspicious of legitimate medical claims. This makes it hard for diabetics to get reimbursement for the diabetes test strips.

Smarter Self-Monitoring

So what can you do to track your condition without spending thousands of dollars on diabetes test strips? Use the minimal number of strips every day. The key is to be precise about testing. Maximize each strip by getting accurate results.

For instance, get the right amount of blood for testing so you don’t get an error reading. Unless you feel sick, limit testing to once per hour during periods of high and low blood sugar. Also, if you think you are not testing enough on a daily basis, let your doctor and your family know about your condition. You can also ask your endocrinologist to revise your prescription. Your diet and lifestyle affect your blood sugar level. You might need more testing every time you engage in strenuous activities.