Test Strip Woes

You all have no idea how much I appreciate Scott’s obsession with test strips. I revel in it.

Every 2.85 months, I have my own obsession going with these most-expensive-and-essential of diabetes supplies: my mail order service won’t renew until I’m down to my last 6 strips. Literally, they take the 10-per-day count so seriously that they won’t process my order until I’ve got enough for, hmmm, one day if I’m lucky not to get any monitor error messages. Right. Like a 35-minute commute “without traffic.” Never happens!

So here I am on the verge of flying across the country to that mecca of diabetes gadgetry, and I possess not half a vial of test strips to my name. My insurance won’t even begin processing the refill till today, and needs another week to ship me the sh@#!t. Does this sound like a good diabetes travel strategy to you?

Ironic, of course, since I’ll be arriving at said mecca of diabetes products on Friday morning. Do I wait till I get there and go begging at the Abbott booth for FreeStyle test strips? I don’t think they do “samples.” Do I shout at my endo and/or the insurance rep on the phone? Um, been-there-done-that gene tells me NO. Test_strip_box

So I cough up the retail price of $55.49 for ONE VIAL of 50 strips. I pack it. I grit my teeth whenever I even think of testing — and have a small coronary each time I get an “Error” message and have to throw an unused strip in the trash.

Ah, how I hope and dream that someone at Blue Shield or at Abbott Diabetes is reading this! Have mercy on me …

(one mini-reprisal was bleeding all over the pharmacy counter at Walgreens. Couldn’t be helped; it was time to test in a hurry again, after all!)


25 Responses

  1. Melissa
    Melissa June 8, 2006 at 8:19 am | | Reply

    That is SO frustrating! I wish I used tha same test strips as you do because through Diabetes Advantage (part of Medical Mutual) I actually end up with extra test strips adn would glady send some your way. I used to have similar problems as you describe with another insurance company only with test strips but hey wer stingy with the insulin too.
    Have fun at the Conference!

  2. Kevin
    Kevin June 8, 2006 at 9:05 am | | Reply

    Totally frustrating. I run into this problem regularly and cough up tons of cash for extra strips. Certainly a pain (as if drawing blood from our finger tips wasn’t a pain enough!).

    By the way, I just got back from the Children With Diabetes Quilt for Life Display out in front of the Capital and saw your quilt — very nice!

    Have a great trip and look forward to your report on the conference (I considered goiing myself (since it’s kinda in my neighborhood), but wasn’t sure whether I’d be able to get in since it seemed targeted to the medical community, and then I missed the early registration and just can’t justify the $$$ for the conference — espically since I know you’re going to be reporting on it!)

  3. Val
    Val June 8, 2006 at 9:48 am | | Reply

    Hi Amy -

    I have the same cheap insurance issue (what do you mean, I should only use X amount of insulin per day), but luckily a dr’s office that stuffs me with freebies when I visit. Now that you have your hold-over strips, mark your calendar and be sure to order extras AS SOON AS the insurance will send them to you.

    I wonder if you could scare them by an urgent care visit because you ran out of strips…. ;)

  4. Nick
    Nick June 8, 2006 at 10:36 am | | Reply

    Sometimes you can buy cheap test strips on the secondary market….check ebay or a local newspaper.

  5. Jim
    Jim June 8, 2006 at 12:55 pm | | Reply

    Maybe your endo would be willing to “over prescribe” such that you have a little extra at the end of the month? I need ~11 insulin pens every three months, but my endo prescribes 3 boxes of 5 pens each, leaving me some spare medication. Comes in handy when a pen gets left in a hot car all day, etc… I’d think something similar could be done for test strips.

  6. Megan
    Megan June 8, 2006 at 1:18 pm | | Reply

    Ugh, that would drive me crazy! I get 10 strips per day too, but they will let me fill them a little early, and I get them at a b and m pharmacy.

  7. Judy
    Judy June 8, 2006 at 2:30 pm | | Reply

    So frustrating dealing with the insurance company on test strips or prescriptions that are “fill only for 30 days”. I see the advice for those in the hurricane areas is to keep extra meds on hand in your emergency kit. Insurance company does not allow you to do that—so if your meds are blown away or washed away—you are “up a creek” as you have no extras!! My insurance company allows me to buy a box of 100 strips (Bayer/Dex disks) every 90 days so I have a few as a cushion. The disk strips aren’t wasted as often—seems to me—as the single strips that must be inserted and coded correctly. I had big problems with the coding part!!

  8. Kathleen Weaver
    Kathleen Weaver June 8, 2006 at 4:05 pm | | Reply

    Can you get your doctor to write it for say 12 a day?

    I will admit, I have it good. I managed to get ahead because my school district changed our Prescription Plan. As soon as we got the new plan, I just had new scripts written. Same thing goes for insulin, symlin, etc. Though I also cheat by getting free samples of those from the endo.

    Oh, speaking of which, haven’

    I actually don’t run out of my strips for about a month after they are refilled.

    Speaking of which, have you asked your endo?

  9. wil
    wil June 8, 2006 at 5:07 pm | | Reply

    Been there and played that game with Anthem/BC. Now with United Healthcare/Caremark and they are the same way. Plus they charge a bigger co-pay if I don’t use their services and get something at the local pharmacy.

    Fortunately, you really SHOULD be able to find all sorts of freebies at the convention. Maybe not strips for your Freestyle, but I suspect you’ll find whole Freestyle kits (with 10 free strips) available just for asking. As well as OneTouch and B-D.

    Have a good trip.

  10. JasonJayhawk
    JasonJayhawk June 9, 2006 at 6:28 am | | Reply

    I’ve been there! I might recommend checking out the types of strips you would never consider, just to get experience with different devices. Sounds like fun? No, I guess not!

    My insurance company does something a little more interesting. Even after sending in a new prescription for 10 (minus two, read on…) number of strips per day, the mail-order pharmacy still calls to VERIFY the Rx. After mailing it in, the last two cycles have taken 28 and 26 days, respectively, before the strips arrived. The “verification” process was ridiculously long — and what did they do? They got permission from my endo’s office to prescribe me with two less strips than was requested on the Rx sheet. Each time, I call and complain, and get things “made right.” They just take the # of strips ordered, subtract two per day, and mail it out.

    So to be safe, my endo must write out a prescription for two more strips than I would like (now 12 per day) in order for me to just get ten per day.

    I don’t blame them–strips are very expensive, and people are selling their “cheap” strips on eBay to make huge profits, illegally and unethically.

    The people who sell their insurance-covered sticks on eBay are probably the same ones who stole the ethics book from my school library.

  11. simone
    simone June 10, 2006 at 3:19 am | | Reply

    Came across your blog. It’s fantastic. I am not american I live in europe (malta). Over here we only get 50 strips a month if you are type 1. You get 0 (nothing) if you are 35+ even if you are insulin dependant.it’s very hard over here. I envy your health care system, you should all be grateful .

  12. JasonJayhawk
    JasonJayhawk June 10, 2006 at 8:54 am | | Reply

    We get 0 strips here in the USA, too — unless you are on Medicare (over 65), and then it’s 100 strips/month, I think.

    When we refer to strips in the USA, we actually pay for them, via our health insurance that we purchase as benefits from the companies for which we work.

  13. Sandra Miller
    Sandra Miller June 10, 2006 at 9:09 am | | Reply


    We’ve run into this issue in the past and have dealt with it by getting a prescription for 300 strips per month, and (for a little extra cushion) occasionally purchasing a four-cannister box of strips on ebay (much better price than Walgreens!).

    Good luck, and enjoy the conference!

  14. aaron fagerstrom
    aaron fagerstrom June 15, 2006 at 2:47 pm | | Reply


    I’ve been there so many times. Just last week I ran out of test strips before I could get more from Blue Cross, but because I’m broke I just went two days without testing. Walgreens is supposed to automate everything by sending faxes to my doctor when my presciptions are about to run out but for some reason it never works and I’m always arguing with them. It sucks, but I’m glad to hear I’m not the only one having this problem.


  15. Stacey Newland
    Stacey Newland August 19, 2006 at 4:17 pm | | Reply

    Be glad you don’t have Aetna, they only allow 6 strips a day even after my endo called to have it changed to 10, they said it’s not necessary. Insurance co.s will be the death of us all.. Stacey

  16. Bob M
    Bob M September 21, 2006 at 10:12 pm | | Reply

    I have United Health Care Ins.
    they don’t cover test strips. I must pay out of my pocket for all my strips. I don’t test very often. I’m now going on insulin and because it is tier 3 and walgreens charges under the copay I must pay for this also myself.
    There should be a way to sue these insurance companies. I’m going broke with all the co pays. At $100 a visit I won’t go to the ER unless I’m unconsious and the rescue takes me there. I’m 56 and I work every day. I’m almost ready to go on disability and let the state deal with all this crap.

  17. Stacey
    Stacey January 2, 2007 at 10:22 pm | | Reply

    Well i guess im having the opposite problem, my insurance will cover whatever is needed as long as its needed, but my doc wont give me the script for what i actually test, she wasnt me to test only 2 times a day, i test at least 5 sometimes more sometimes less but i get 100 per month and can refill after the 3rd week, and the pharmacy is very picky on how they want there scripts to be written.

  18. Susan
    Susan June 2, 2007 at 11:57 am | | Reply


    I have United Health Care also, and they will not pay for test stips at all. Worse, the one diabetic drug the doctor has prescribed for me is what they call Tier-3. I called to complain and asked what Tier-3 means. The guy said that drug is on their non-preferred list. I asked if non-preferred meant that they would PREFER we not take what out doctor prescribed, and HE SAID YES.

    I’m furious. I’d like to know why all my life I’ve insisted on Medical coverage and NOW when I need it, what I need ‘isn’t’ covered.

    SuZ in FL

  19. willis e bishop
    willis e bishop June 7, 2007 at 9:01 am | | Reply

    i need help can not afford to pay for dibetic blood strips .who ccan i go to for help

  20. Don
    Don August 11, 2007 at 7:27 am | | Reply

    I was just diagnosed type 1 about 7 weeks ago. I’ve already been beating my head against the wall with this issue. First off, the endo wrote my first scrip for strips at #100. Little did I know that was supposed to cover A MONTH! For some reason they kept giving me scrips that were too low. Also Oxford doesn’t allow more than 200 strips a month unless your doctor calls in for pre approval. Another pain. I started the mail order program and got low balled on all of my medication. They said my doctor wrote “tests 4 times a day” and sent me 400 strips for a 90 day period. I noticed you get enough for 10 tests a day, I wish I was that lucky. I’m 35 so I plan on living for a while longer and it is very scary thinking about how I would have to manage this without insurance.

  21. Rita
    Rita September 25, 2008 at 8:36 am | | Reply

    I found a great prescription discount card at http://www.rxdrugcard.com. Let me give you an example of the savings. I’ve seen ads on TV for Caduet. It has two ingredients. One is Amlodipine and the other is Atorvastatin. With my RxDrugCard I can get 30 tablets of Amlodipine for $9 and 30 tablets of Simvastatin for $9. I’ll bet they are charging more than $18 for this new drug! I think that RxDrugCard.com is the best drug card available for prescription discounts. The monthly family membership fee is only $4.95! You can’t beat that!

  22. Pat
    Pat September 26, 2008 at 8:19 pm | | Reply


    Another frustrated diabetic with United Health Care insurance, but after finding this website with cheap test strips I don’t know if I need UHC anymore (just kidding!)
    I think the website is webscheapestteststrips.com, and I was blown away by all the strips available, and their PRICES are the cheapest I’ve seen!
    It seemed as though they had all the name brands, and I was able to find some of my Accu-check strips and saved around $15-$20 a box…I got my strips in four days, and I couldn’t be happier!
    Before you spen your hardearned money somewhere else, check this site out (I went back and it is webscheapestteststrips.com) Good luck!

    Pat in Texas

  23. Bluz
    Bluz June 16, 2009 at 8:16 am | | Reply

    All you people that get 10 strips per day and are complaining…..jeez.
    I have to pay for all mine, my insurance doesn’t pay for anything that is disposable. So I test every couple of days or if I feel a low coming on.
    This is what I pay premiums for.

  24. Steve Verachio
    Steve Verachio November 19, 2009 at 10:50 am | | Reply

    We get free supplies through our insurance company for my disabled wife. Well, not really free because we d pay a premium for the insurance.

    Her medical costs are very high and we are hardly getting by wth medical expenses (co-pays are killing us). We have extra diabetes supplies and we do sell them, very, very cheap, so that we can use the money to pay for her other supplies.

    The people who buy them get 50 strips for less than $20 and we have the money to help pay for my wife’s care. We aren’t making a killing and we are helping people.

    We pay a high premium and high co-pays and are just fortuante to get the supplies free. We get 9 strips a day. So whether my wife uses them or we sell some, I don’t see how it is wrong to help pay for her other care and help others get supplies for a lot less. We are helping people who might not be able to afford anything. I know people will disagree. I am just sharing my viewpoint.

    No one understands where anyone else comes from because no one has been that exact person. I am me. You aren’t me, you’re you. So, before judging others and getting all critical, try some compassion.

    And, the librarian took the ethics book because he wanted to buy the updated version. His supervisors said the older edition was fine. Once the older edition vanished, he ordered the new one. The old one went to the Salvation Army.

  25. Gary Demenint
    Gary Demenint April 8, 2010 at 3:28 pm | | Reply

    You must be in the USA. I’m in Canada and they are coverd for me by our health care system. But if you want i can get you a box for 2 bucks and send them to you…Al it will cost me is 2.00 for the product and shipping cost…maybe 13 dallars. So for 15 bucks it might help.
    Gary D.

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