8 ways to lower the costs of test strips

There is no doubt about it: Test strips are expensive. When I was first diagnosed with diabetes, my doctor gave me a meter and instructions to test at least five times per day. But when I went to the pharmacy to buy test strips, I was hit with a very unpleasant sticker shock. Affording to test as often as necessary was going to put a serious strain on my finances. Unfortunately, this is the reality of testing for many of us with diabetes.

Lowering the costs of test strips

Those tiny test strips can cost up to one dollar each. But why are the prices so high? Some of it has to do with the chemicals on the strip, but the majority of the cost is simply markup. David Kliff, publisher of Diabetes Investor newsletter, told Philly.com that it costs about 11 cents to make a single test strip. Marketing and administrative expenses might add another 10 cents. For a test strip that costs one dollar, that's a profit margin of about 80 percent.

Cutting down on the costs of test strips can keep more of that money in your pocket. Try these tips before you pay full price:

  1. Ask for samples. Obtain samples from your doctor's office, your diabetes educator, the company that manufactures the test strips and anywhere else you can find them.
  2. Look to your insurance company. What test strips does your insurance policy cover? If the co-pays are reasonable, it pays to stick to the test strips your insurance will pay for.
  3. Use prescription cards. You might qualify for discount cards through the test strip manufacturer. Also look into the Together-Rx Access card, which offers up to 40 percent off certain prescriptions.
  4. Switch brands. Compare test strips on a regular basis. If another brand is cheaper and you can get the meter for free, make the switch. An added bonus: If you regularly buy test strips from a prescription program, the sudden loss of your business might prompt the old brand to offer you savings to return.
  5. Purchase online. Buying your test strips online might be cheaper than picking them up at the pharmacy. Look at sites like Amazon and eBay to find test strips at a lower price. Be warned, however: Some of those "great deals" will be for expired strips. Check on the expiration date before you buy.
  6. Clip coupons. Look for coupons for your favorite brand of test strips. These can be found in diabetes magazines, some pharmacies or at the company's website.
  7. Look for community events. The American Diabetes Association has lists of community events online, including Diabetes Expos. You can pick up information and samples for free at various booths.
  8. Talk to your doctor. If you are having trouble affording test strips, your physician might be able to provide you with samples, coupons and other ways to bring down the cost.

Testing blood sugar is an absolutely essential part of diabetes care; don't let your vigilance over glucose control slide because test strips are too expensive. All of these tips have resulted in savings for me, and they can be kind to your pocketbook, too.

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About Shannon Lee

Shannon Dauphin began writing about diabetes long before she was diagnosed in 1998. A professional writer with nearly two decades of experience, Shannon has covered topics from medical and health to relationships and is the author of several published novels.

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