Have you ever wished that free diabetes supplies would fall out of the sky? It's no secret that the cost of healthcare, and especially the cost of insulin, is skyrocketing. People are skipping tests, re-using needles, and under-dosing themselves with insulin because they can't make ends meet. That makes me pretty upset, and I want to help you access any cheap or free diabetes supplies you can.
How to overpay for diabetes supplies
Did you know that there are “discount” diabetes supply websites that offer affiliate income to people like me, who can steer patients like you to those sites? (Affiliate income is money earned from referring a customer to a company or service. When that customer makes a purchase, the “affiliate” gets paid a fee or a percentage of the customer's purchase price — kind of like a kickback.)
Before I wrote this article, I checked out those “discount” sites that offer affiliate income. Guess what? I compared the price of a certain type of testing strips to the price of the same type of testing strips at Walmart, and Walmart won every time. So, I can't recommend any of those “discount” websites. They are paying anywhere from 6-30% to people who refer to them, and the person who's actually footing the bill is you.
Not every “discount” diabetes supply company has an affiliate program, but if you're curious, a quick Google search will show you the ones that do.
How to find cheap and free diabetes supplies if you have Medicare or private insurance
I'm amazed that so many of my clients don't realize that Medicare and private insurance companies cover diabetes testing supplies with a doctor's prescription. If you're in that group, you're about to save some money!
Your prescription must spell out all of these things:
- Whether or not you have diabetes
- What type of blood glucose monitor you need. (If you need a special talking meter because you have poor vision, the prescription needs to say that.)
- Whether or not you use insulin
- How often you should check your blood sugar
- How many test strips and lancets you need to last a month
You can get your diabetes testing supplies at a local pharmacy, or through a Durable Medical Equipment (DME) company. Medicare has a rule that says you have to ask for refills, so your pharmacy or DME company can't just automatically send you supplies at the beginning of every month. Make a note to call your supplier about a week before you run out of supplies.
Best cheap diabetes supplies and meters if you're uninsured
- The Walmart ReliOn meter isn't free, but it is cheap. ReliOn is consistently the least expensive meter and strips that you can buy at a store, and it's been my experience that it's just as accurate as a name-brand meter. As I'm writing this post, the meter itself is $9, and a box of 50 strips is also $9.
- KnowCopay If you check only once a day, you can get a free meter and lancing device plus enough strips and lancets to last you for 3 months. The cost is $19.99 (Other prices available depending on how often you test.) That's cheaper than ReliOn. This is an internet/mail-order company.
- If you have trouble with your vision, the Prodigy meter is relatively inexpensive (under $20) and speaks to you in four different languages so you can hear your blood glucose level instead of trying to see it. The prodigy strips are approximately $10 for a box of 50 strips.
After thoroughly combing the internet and checking prices, those are the three best solutions I found for checking your blood sugar on the cheap. If you know of any others, feel free to share them in the comments below!
Action Steps, Day 23:
- Add up all the money you spend on taking care of diabetes each month. Are you taking advantage of insurance coverage for your strips and lancets?
- Call your doctor for a prescription if you need one.
- If you don't have insurance coverage for supplies, investigate the three lower-cost meters above and decide if you'd like to switch the next time you run out of strips.
- If you're following the 30 Days to Tame Type 2 Diabetes series, today's physical activity goal is: Get creative about your physical activity. Do something you enjoy for 20-30 minutes: dance, rake leaves, hula-hoop…it's up to you!
This post is part of a series, Tame Type 2 Diabetes in 30 Days. To go to the first post in the series, click here.
Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash
MPH, RDN, LDN, CDCES, IBCLC
I believe people with diabetes can enjoy good food and good health without feeling ashamed of their bodies.