I mentioned something on social media a few days ago about a ‘lifetime supply’ of lancets, and how I get my test strips free every month. I’ve been getting a lot of ‘How do you do that?!’ questions, so I thought I would share.
Nothing I’m doing to get supplies is incredibly mind-blowing nor is it difficult and all of it is done honestly.
LANCETS: For my lancets – I primarily use the Accu-Chek Multiclix lancing devices, but also like the Delica lancing device from OneTouch. The vast majority of the lancets I have are for the Multiclix, however. What I mean when I say I have a ‘lifetime supply’ is not that I have enough to prick my finger with a brand-spanking new lancet every time……..I am notoriously BAD at changing my lancet, often not changing it until I literally just can’t make myself bleed. I recently found two large lots of Multiclix lancets on Ebay and purchased them at well below retail pricing. I have enough lancets now that I can change my lancet every two weeks and still have them last about 50 years. (Yes, go ahead and tell me that I need to change my lancet every time or I will get infections….I’ll point out that in over 22 years I’ve never had a skin infection. Tell me I’ll get calluses….I’ll point out that I test so often my fingers were callused even as a child when I DID change the lancet every single time.)
The Multiclix lancets retail for $12.99 for a box of 102 at Target. Even if I used insurance coverage to get 204 a month, I’d pay $15 out of pocket….averaging $7.50 a box. The ones I got on Ebay ran me $4 a box and I only paid $2.54 to ship all of them.
To me….that is being thrifty. For others, who wish to change their lancets every single time, this may just be a case of being silly.
TEST STRIPS: As far as my test strips, yes, it’s true….I get 250 test strips absolutely free every month.
See, my insurance formulary treats all glucose strips the same – every single brand (even store brand generics) fall into the highest co-pay tier on my insurance. They ALL cost $55/month in copay. When I learned about this I was dismayed, because my last insurance policy only charged $25/month. As an adult back in school, who gave up a full time career teaching, spending an extra $30/month was NOT something I wanted to do (especially because the cost of my insulin was also going up $30/month…and I haven’t figured a way out of that one yet!). Incidentally, around the same time I chose to change from Walgreens pharmacy (I had been using Walgreens religiously since my diagnosis in 1992) to Target pharmacy. I had had enough of Walgreens – they never seemed to have my Verio test strips or my Novolog in stock, and several times I had to wait a WEEK for them to get them in. They were never helpful about obtaining them from another pharmacy location for me – it was always up to ME to do the footwork, etc. (Target, for what it’s worth, has been AMAZING. No issues. EVER. And they have superb customer service.) Well, when I was in my initial consult with the pharmacist at my local Target, working out how to transfer my RXs from Walgreens to Target….she let me know about their store brand ‘premium’ meter and how with a RX from my doctor for those strips I could get a full month’s supply for just $4, under their ‘$4 generic program’. I took some time to investigate and found that their ‘premium’ meter was a rebranded Wavesense Jazz. I went about getting a free meter and strips from Agamatrix (the manufacturer) to try it out and compare it to my Verio IQ prior to making a full jump over. After all, lower copays aren’t much good if accuracy sucks. But the accuracy was great and I chose to get my RX changed from Verio strips to the Up & Up premium blood glucose strips. Somehow or other I don’t even have a $4 copay….the way my insurance works in tandem with a generics assistance program somehow balances out to nothing………as in, I pay NOTHING for my strips every month. (The best part is that Target still tells my insurance I’m being charged $55/month, but then Target ‘pays’ it on my behalf. My insurance applies $55/month to my out of pocket maximum, even though I’m not the one paying it out of my pocket.)
So if you are willing to switch to a meter with a few less bells and whistles, it’s absolutely within everyone’s reach to obtain free or very close to free test strips every month.
DME: The last way that I’m ‘thrifty’ with my diabetes supplies is my purchase of DME supplies. If you’ve read anything else I’ve written about DME you know I HATE Edgepark because they markup their prices astronomically. I now get my supplies for my t:slim directly through Tandem. They were in-network for my insurance I had for 6 months last year, but they aren’t for the insurance I use this year. HOWEVER, because the price they charge is FAR less than what Edgepark (who IS in-network) charges and actually falls so far BELOW the maximum allowable charge by my policy, my insurance has agreed to reimburse as if they are in-network. Meaning my supplies each month work out to be about $35 out of pocket, instead of the $80 per month I was paying out of pocket for supplies from Edgepark…..for the exact same supplies. Now that I’m on a Dexcom I have to use a third-party for them (my insurance doesn’t contract with Dexcom either, and apparently Dexcom doesn’t want to touch the accounts of out-of-network patients unless they’ve exhausted all other options)………but I asked my local Dexcom rep to do some price checking for me and told him I’d under no circumstances use Edgepark. He got me hooked up with Byram. While they do markup, it’s only a few dollars per box of sensors and so basically my out of pocket payments for sensors through Byram cost the same as they would if my insurance worked directly with Dexcom.
The lesson here is that you need to price check. You need to talk to your insurance company to find out your options, call those companies and find out what their contracted rates are with YOUR policy, find out what YOU would pay out of pocket – and get it in writing if you can. Do not just accept the DME provider your insurance company at first recommends. They often are NOT the lowest cost option. (Why in the world insurance companies want to contract with higher priced options, I will never understand). If you find an option that is far cheaper but is out-of-network, talk to someone at your insurance company – they may be willing to write up a specialty contract just for you so you can use that option and save yourself and your insurance company a lot of money.
Diabetes is expensive. Look for the loopholes, use your resources…and you may be able to make it a bit cheaper for yourself, without sacrificing quality.