Test strips, lancets, and medications can be expensive. Unfortunately, I see many people who pay full price for these items because they think their insurance won't provide coverage.
And yet insurance often does cover some types of testing supplies and medications—if you can figure out exactly what is covered. Here are some tips that can help you understand your coverage.
Insurance usually covers the costs of a meter, test strips, and lancets
For your insurance to cover these items, however, you will need a prescription for them from your healthcare provider to take to your pharmacy.
How much will be covered?
This will depend on the type of insurance plan you have. The best way to determine your costs is to call your insurance company and ask which brand of meter and supplies are covered for the lowest copay. Your insurance company might prefer certain brands to others, and thus will ask you to pay a higher copay for non-preferred brands.
Did your pharmacist tell you that your insurance company doesn't cover strips and lancets?
This may be because these supplies are covered under your medical benefits instead of your pharmacy benefits. Because test strips and lancets are supplies and not medications, they might fall under durable medical equipment (DME). Call your insurance company and ask for the phone number of DME; they can often get your supplies for you through the mail.
What if your insurance does not cover any type of testing supplies?
Check a local drug store or big retail chain for a generic meter and testing supplies. If you have to pay for supplies, generics can be just as good and will be much cheaper.
If you have Medicare
Medicare covers 80 percent of any brand of strips and lancets, so the decision of what brand to buy is up to you. If you have a secondary insurance policy, it will pick up the remaining 20 percent that Medicare doesn't.
If you need a new meter
Call the toll-free number on the back of your meter—the company will likely send you a brand-new meter because they want to keep you as a customer and continue to make money from your insurance company. Your insurance company might even cover a new meter but, once again, you will need a prescription. You can also ask your doctor or diabetes educator if they have meters they could give you.
If you are having problems paying for your diabetes medications, let your doctor know and ask about generic options. Large retail chains also sell some diabetes medications for a $4 monthly copay.
Remember: Insurance often covers your meter supplies and medications, but it's up to you to ask questions and find the best coverage.
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