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 $100 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:
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 $1.50 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 $4,500 per person per year without insurance, not including additional costs for supplies, which can exceed $1,500.
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 person’s 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 $200 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.