34 Responses

  1. Leighann of D-Mom Blog
    Leighann of D-Mom Blog August 2, 2012 at 4:30 am | | Reply

    You mentioned the prescription savings plans for insulin, but many of the test strips companies also offer savings cards that offset the cost of strips by as much as $50 per month. We use the FreeStyle Promise program which can save a patient up to $600 per year. This program is not based on financial need, you use it at the pharmacy, and there is nothing that your physician has to do in order for you to participate other than write a prescription.

  2. Scott E
    Scott E August 2, 2012 at 5:14 am | | Reply

    Unfortunately, this is why it’s so hard to get good insurance coverage for a sufficient quantity of test strips, because the savings don’t always go to the insured. we almost need strips that are paid (in part, at least) by a 3rd party to be sold with non-removable Rx labels; so the secondhand buyer either gets the name and address of the immoral strip-seller or they get a mangled box. It might be enough to discourage the practice.

    It might also drive down the prices so that the un/under-insured don’t need to resort to buying strips at McDonalds.

    1. Raiden
      Raiden August 24, 2014 at 11:52 am | | Reply

      I see this as a social issue and slightly a moral one. People cannot go without necessary medical supplies and if the re-sellers fill a void and they are not breaking the law then leave it be. If Insurance company’s and state and county governments have evidence that this niche market is somehow dangerous or counter productive to society as a whole then take the steps to make a change…. That is if local authorities and insurance CEO’s can spare time from fishing on their million dollar yahts & vacationing in the Caribbean.

  3. nora
    nora August 2, 2012 at 5:52 am | | Reply

    Low-income patients should also contact their local free clinics (see for a nationwide listing), federally-qualified community health center, or city/county health department. They may qualify for free or deeply discounted healthcare, including meds and testing supplies.

    1. dina
      dina February 1, 2013 at 4:57 pm | | Reply

      oddly enough it is the insured that are overcharged. AT CVS my test strips with insurance $85.00(my out of pocket cost) same strips to uninsured $64.00. Not only to I have to pay $85.00 for the test strips I have to pay 350 be fore they are discounted to 85.00! plus pay my premiums! I thought I had fallen of a turnip truck when this was explained to me. And also per Caremark(my insurance company) my employer sets the charges for a drug not the pharmacy.

      1. Brittany
        Brittany July 30, 2014 at 5:09 pm | | Reply

        I totally understand and think it is deplorable that medical companies do this to us. Personally, I am resorting to the cheapest of the cheap strips and meters just to be able to monitor my glucose at least on some level. I am not sure I am still Pre-Diabetic as I have been losing weight, determining my food allergies, getting rid of the inflammation in my body, etc. I can’t pay full price or even insurance prices for the strips so I have no other choice. I just bought the ReliON Prime meter and strips and generally they are crap. I can’t continue using my amazing Accu-Chek Nano and Smartview strips due to extreme costs. Insurance wants to charge me $200 per 200 strips. Rip-off! It’s not worth it to me. And now that I’m hypoglycemic instead of hypERglycemic, my whole view of using these strips and meters has changed. Sorry for the rant but I am upset just as most of the rest of the US is with the cost of strips.

  4. Cara
    Cara August 2, 2012 at 6:33 am | | Reply

    Creepy. :/

  5. Dutch Heetbrink
    Dutch Heetbrink August 2, 2012 at 6:59 am | | Reply

    And the there is the recently introduced Relion Prime at Walmart with 50 Strips for $9.

  6. Hope W.
    Hope W. August 2, 2012 at 9:31 am | | Reply

    What you did was insurance fraud, right? You admit you bought your test strips for $10 through your private insurance and then re-sold them for $20. Is this somehow right just because you wrote an article about it? This makes me so angry! I have enough trouble getting the testing supplies I need without reading an article like this!

  7. Scott S
    Scott S August 2, 2012 at 10:48 am | | Reply

    It seems to me this could be considered insurance and/or Medicare/Medicaid fraud. The notion that this hurts no parties is flawed … in fact, the insurance company eats the cost (or Medicaid/Medicare) for the strips which should be used by patients, and in turn, that means they pass those costs on to those who buy their services (which is usually employers, who are now “sharing” the cost increases they’re getting with employees with higher co-pays and deductibles). According to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the long-term average U.S. Health Care Inflation Rate was 5.56%, which is higher than the overall inflation rate. Some patients are willing sell their supplies because they aren’t using them (if they aren’t they really shouldn’t receive them in the first place). However, healthcare fraud is not a victimless crime, we all pay for it in higher prices. People should think about that the next time they pay a deductible, co-pay or the cost of healthcare in general.

  8. Jay Kauffman
    Jay Kauffman August 2, 2012 at 12:38 pm | | Reply

    so far no-one has mentioned the elephant in the room, the blazingly obvious fact that $125 for a bottle of test strips if you are uninsured is price-gouging and should be against the law, and would be against the law if laws weren’t made to order based on lobbying power

    which is based on cash power

    which is based on the fact that pharmaceuticals are able to get away with continually continually raising prices to ever-increasing levels of obscenity and barely get more than a “that’s just the way things are” from the pharmacy-going public as they deal with sticker shock every time they pull out their credit card

    It’s a vicious and very profitable circle of greed…..

    in this article it mentions:

    “In Forbes’ list of the world’s leading companies, pharmaceutical companies have profit margins averaging 20 percent, whereas the average profit margin for the 2,000 leading companies worldwide is 8 percent.”

    So yes, someone who needs a bit of extra cash because they decide they don’t need all of their test strips can earn 10 bucks and that’s low-level gaming of the insurance system

    and yes, someone who can’t afford a criminally overpriced product that they need in order to survive is forced to order it for $50 bucks less online, or perhaps break the unfairly upheld law and order it from Canada

    but the creators of the product can just continue merrily along with their 20% profit margin and offer a few token charity programs for people who are able and willing to jump through the hoops and prove that they are close enough to abject poverty to get some limited “help”

    Just because it’s legal doesn’t mean it’s moral

    1. Tim
      Tim August 2, 2012 at 2:27 pm | | Reply

      The other elephant in the room is that healthcare in this country is more about business than the customer. I remember a time when pharmaceutical companies and medical supply companies got into business because they saw a NEED for the product because PEOPLE were suffering needlessly.

      People who find companies whose FIRST goal is better outcomes for their customers will always reward them with their patronage and loyalty.

  9. Mike Lawson
    Mike Lawson August 2, 2012 at 1:29 pm | | Reply


    Your point is incredibly valid…there’s no such thing as a free strip. This article focuses on the process, and I haven’t yet jumped into who is picking up this slack. I never meant to portray this as a “victimless” crime, and I’m glad that you added this.

  10. Betty
    Betty August 2, 2012 at 5:31 pm | | Reply

    I just saw one of these signs and wondering about how legal it is. It’s illegal to sell other prescriptions, so I figured it would for test strips too… if course, Jon never has left overs.

  11. Mike Lawson
    Mike Lawson August 2, 2012 at 6:04 pm | | Reply

    Betty –

    Test strips actually do not require a prescription for purchase. The prescription you received for Jon’s strips is used by the pharmacy to bill your insurance company.

    1. Jay Kauffman
      Jay Kauffman August 3, 2012 at 12:48 pm | | Reply

      people who sell their test strips, as I see it, are cheating themselves more than anyone else….the reason insurance covers test strips, which as you note, don’t require a prescription, is that they want you to take care of yourself, so that you have less expensive complications later on–which they know will cost them a LOT more than the test strips.

      If you don’t use your test strips and thus have out of control bgs, and end up costing the insurer a lot more money down the road, you’re contributing to an increase in the price of insurance, not to an increase in the price of test strips.

      Is my logic sound?

      and of course, you’re cheating yourself of health.


  12. Eileen
    Eileen August 2, 2012 at 6:37 pm | | Reply

    I’m a type 1 of 49 years duration (and doing well) who went on Medicare recently. Medicare requires that patients using more than 100 strips a month submit their test results to the pharmacy. The pharmacy has to copy them and send the copies to Medicare. Can you imagine! I got mad and now am buying an extra 100 test strips via Amazon. This mess is another result of the strip dealers you describe. Maybe Amazon’s strips are coming from Medicare patients, heh-heh.

  13. Sam
    Sam August 2, 2012 at 9:00 pm | | Reply

    I have several thougts on this.

    First, as usual the evil pharmaceutical companies get blamed by many people. People complain about the profits and want the medical field to be in it only to help people. That is naive.

    It would be wonderful if that was the truth, but businesses want, need, must make money to survive and grow, and perform needed research etc. It is human nature, and if one company did not strive to make as high of profit as it could, it would not be able to grow and/or be gobbled up by the next one who had that desire. It is a simple rule and proven time and time again.

    The problem is not the pharmaceutical industry. They are just operating to maximize themselves under the rules of the current system. The problem is the Health Insurance Industry. Why are they even there? There is NO NEED for a third party payor. It interferes all laws of the free market and the result is what we have today.

    I can empathize with the lifetime costs of a chronic disease and to add to the personal examples mentioned in the comments of how crazy our system can be, I recently changed jobs mid June. I was told my medical coverage would go through end of June when my new insurance plan would kick in. Except the HR rep I spoke with at my former company was wrong. They had “changed the policy” and now I was only covered until the day I left the company. Oops. So I ended up being denied by my former employer’s plan for my Endo appt.

    I received a denial letter from BCBS stating my Endo could bill me $1,200 for this basic quarterly visit/labs. After I calmed down, I called my Endo and explained the deal to them and they said they would give me the “private pay rate” of $196. What? You mean out of the kindness of their hearts they will accept over $1000 less than they would get from BCBS??

    Of course not, but in this rediculous system, the providers are able to, and in most cases, must overinflate the rates so much to negotiate a payment they can operate and grow on, that it is just insane. Take out the middle man, aka Third Party payor, aka Health insurance and the system begins to make sense and return from the land of crazy. Granted $196 is a steep cost for an hour visit, but one that I’d be more than happy to pay if it would help me continue to be free of Type 1 complications after 35 years of this disease.

    The rise of health insurance began with government intervention into our healthcare in 1910 with the Flexner Report via which the governement basially drove out of business all the practictioners who did not practice as the government saw fit. Then to further the cause during WWII, when the GOV’T put a wage freeze on companies. So, to get around this, the companies started paying for employees healthcare costs. Yes, we need a safety net for the underpriviledged etc, but if we could truly reform HealthCare in this country instead of the charade that is Obamacare, we could offer a way to improve our current situation.

    I’m not blaming D’Mine for insurance fraud at all like one of the commentors. I applaud the initiative in this project. Very interesting. But those that practice in this most DEFINITELY are committing insurance fraud.

    Everyone most certainly does not win in this system. Yes, the consumer often loses out as the article mentions. But another victim here is the taxpayors who pay for BILLIONS of waste in Medicare and Medicaid $ each year. I am a healthcare provider and I see it all the time in the Rehabilitation industry.

    Great article, but I wish all would realize the real evil empire here. The Health insurance industry maybe, but actually we can’t even blame them. They were just filling a void and trying to run a business to take advantage of the problem with the free market that was created when the GOVERNMENT interfered with the system. They met the demand created by the interference of government in the free market.

    As the Austrain Economist Murray Rothbard wrote in 1995, “And so, our very real medical crisis has been the product of massive government intervention, state and federal, throughout the century; in particular, an artificial boosting of demand coupled with an artificial restriction of supply. The result has been accelerating high prices and deterioration of patient care. And next, socialized medicine could easily bring us to the vaunted medical status of the Soviet Union: everyone has the right to free medical care, but there is, in effect, no medicine and no care.”

    Good food for thought, and I would love if we would all at least consider this issue and pay attention. Read, learn and broaden our understanding of this issue. Don’t just let the Networks and the machine tell us what is the problem. The fix is not easy. Most great solutions never are. But if we use our minds and it is right before us.

    1. Art Weaver
      Art Weaver March 9, 2013 at 10:27 pm | | Reply

      Well…I have to disagree with you. While every business is about making a profit, some (too many in fact) corporations are just evil! When you use every dirty trick in the book to get ahead. When you misuse power to take unfair advantage of both competitors and customers…YOU ARE EVIL!
      A long time ago there was this now long forgotten concept that HONESTY, HONORABILITY, and FAIRNESS, were to be cherished, and rewarded.
      When you have companies like Walmart and Microsoft who’s primary agenda is to eliminate ALL competition, no matter how small…read “wipe out every mom and pop or small shop business,” BEFORE they enter a market, THAT is just evil…..
      Unfortunately that is only one leg of the three legged dog that is destroying American healthcare.
      First, everyone forgets that an insurance company is basically a gambling establishment, everyone but THEM! They are so good at the game that most folks are foolish enough to argue that they are not all day long! They are basically a casino that has no oversight or control to keep them from rigging the game to always be 100% in their favor. Worse…there’s no other game in town because they have all agreed to use the same rule book! They in fact make so much money that they spend most of their efforts in investing their earnings in ways that avoid taxes and public awareness. ( BILLIONS each year to lobbyists alone!)
      Second, is the cost to the health care providers of dealing with these insurance companies and Medicare/Medicaid. It actually costs up to 50% of what the provider gets paid just to comply with rules and complete paperwork. In anything but the tiniest doctors office at least one employee does nothing but deal with insurance claims processing and collections.
      The third and final, but most damaging leg of the three is Medicare and Medicaid! The insurance companies at least have to negotiate and barter with the providers over charges. NOT Medicare or Medicaid! They determine what they will pay for, or not. They determine how much they will pay. AND, the provider MUST provide the service, PAID FOR OR NOT, at the price Medicare/Medicaid chooses to pay!
      SO, in self defense, both the providers and the insurance companies RAISE the charges to insure they receive sufficient payment!!

  14. Susan Whittier
    Susan Whittier August 3, 2012 at 10:09 am | | Reply

    When I first read this comment / message re ‘stix’ I held my breath and thought – I have a third world country living next door. The Canadian medicare setup is definitely not perfect, but it was realized a long time ago that if the PWD has the tools to mange their condition to the best of their ability, i.e. to stay healthy, in the long run it will be cheaper for the whole taxpayer population and there will be more contributing to the community at large – rather than soaking up its welfare / medicare / homecare / palliative care.
    Statistically speaking it looks like the USA has a population equivalent to Toronto Ontario of PWD’s – man/ woman and child. Scary.
    Having lived with this condition for as long as I have,[59Y/8mo] I will state again the use of the strips for blood glucose monitorig is not ideal, but at this point in time, unless you have financial backing this is still the cheapest / easist way to monitor day to day the diabetes situation. I can only hope your third world situation changes soon – isn’t there an election on the horizon????

  15. MIkeM
    MIkeM August 3, 2012 at 11:37 am | | Reply

    At WalMart, you can get the new RelyOn Prime 50 ct test strips for $9.00

    Problem solved

    1. William Smith
      William Smith August 22, 2014 at 5:29 pm | | Reply

      Wal-Mart is evil, I hate them!!!

  16. Jay Kauffman
    Jay Kauffman August 3, 2012 at 12:39 pm | | Reply

    Well, problem not exactly solved but at least we get to see something closer to the actual retail value of the strips.If they can make a profit at 9 bucks, then there’s something a bit fishy about charging 8 -10 x the amount.

    and the heirs to Walmart are obviously not hurting from this arrrangement—they are worth more than 40% of Americans

  17. Kevin L McMahon
    Kevin L McMahon August 20, 2012 at 12:45 pm | | Reply

    As a researcher in the field of diabetes, readers might be interested in knowing that this black market of test strips is the go-to source for many research trials. Back in 2007 or so I was the first and only researcher to get a contract with Lifescan to buy test strips at the Medicaid price from an FDA registered distributor. Without that special agreement I would have had to pay nearly twice as much. It was Lifescan’s hope that this agreement could bring more research programs into the light and out of the black market. Sometimes research programs at universities and hospitals get free test strips from the manufacturers but since 2009 the days of free have pretty much expired. I don’t know about you but this fact doesn’t make me feel that good about the quality of diabetes research.

  18. Scott S
    Scott S October 31, 2012 at 8:03 am | | Reply

    With my insurance (United Healthcare/caremark) I pay 157.00 for 400 one touch ultra strips. Once this last prescription runs out I will be switching to the Walmart kind. 18 cents a strip is a great deal. You have to hope this will start competition and drive the price down.

  19. Jay
    Jay November 6, 2012 at 1:40 pm | | Reply

    The organization I work for actually created a low cost diabetes testing supplies plan for the uninsured/underinsured. 150 test strips, unlimited access to the CDE/Founder and a new bayer contour next ez meter. They work directly with Bayer for supplies, and they don’t sell direct on the site. The strips come directly from bayer, and are included as apart of the plan. So far no complaints.

  20. jessie
    jessie December 4, 2012 at 6:56 pm | | Reply

    I use an insulin pump and a cgm, but also have to use test strips. The costs of these items even with insurance is over $1350 for a 3 month supply, not to mention the co-pays and deductibles I have to pay making the total well over $1500. I get the test strips through my insurance take what I need out and sell the rest to help with the cost of my other supplies. If I didn’t I would not be able to afford them at all. So it may seem like insurance fraud and that I’m not taking care of myself but if I can’t afford the supplies what is that going to lead to? Me not taking care of myself at all and going into the hospital costing my insurance company more, me missing work costing me and my company more. All people who sell their test strips are not evil or trying to scam the insurance. If we had decent affordable health insurance in this country no one would have to do business with shady re-sellers.

  21. John
    John December 16, 2012 at 12:31 pm | | Reply

    This is the stupidest article I ever read!

  22. Shane Reaume
    Shane Reaume April 8, 2013 at 12:51 pm | | Reply

    That is ridiculous that anyone can sell test strips that have been in the hands of others regardless if sealed or not. No wonder these online companies (specifically on Amazon) are selling strips at or bellow cost any manufacturer is selling them for.

    I was curious how a wholesale cost of say $8 was being sold for $5. I figured they where taking a loss because the dates, but now I have another culprit to this issue. How do you compete with this?

  23. Stan Simon
    Stan Simon July 8, 2013 at 1:00 am | | Reply

    The last time I looked, it was reported the the drug companies were making appx. $3B a year in test strips. I wonder why the government, who seems to be a big player & payer, in the field, doesn’t allow other companies to compete and come up with a brand X strip and regulate the costs of these strips to the public.. Charging .10 – .15 a stripp as opposed to .50-1.00. Since the government allows generic type drugs
    that are in fact safe and a lot less costly, why not strips?

  24. Dave
    Dave November 5, 2013 at 10:56 pm | | Reply

    In my opinion selling strips for cash is a bad idea.

  25. chuck
    chuck December 2, 2013 at 1:42 pm | | Reply

    Once the customer buys the strips , the strips belong to them you can not dictate what they do with those strips, they are not the property of the insurance company, so bitch all you wish , there is nothing you can do, it is not insurance fraud , when the strips were purchased the sale was legal, if you then sell the strips it is up to you they are yours, you can eat them , flush them down the toilet or give them away, you clowns want to make everything a crime, go lay down, it is none of your business what they do , we are talking about test strips , not crack.

  26. jake
    jake December 10, 2013 at 9:49 am | | Reply

    are you really gonna compare test strips to crack? one kills people when they use it, the other saves their lives. even if you dont want to see this as illegal, it is definitely immoral. it causes insurance costs to rise for everyone and if these (shady or not) test strip resellers don’t register with the FDA (as many have not) then who is to say the strips were properly kept before shipping? a drop or rise in the temperature of the storage room will cause the strips to go bad, leading to inaccurate readings and poor health. reselling strips is bad, mmkay?

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