Stripping Down the Cost of Testing


By: Rick Mendosa

A few years ago, the International DiabetesCenter in Minneapolis, Minnesota, comparedmeter systems. What I remember most about thecomparison was the cost of blood glucose teststrips—they were so close.

Strip prices for the leading brands are still prettysimilar. Every time you test with the best-sellingmeters, your cost will be about 80 cents. Andthat’s assuming you don’t waste a strip or two.

Of course, health insurance generally covers80 to 100 percent of the cost. But 15 percentof Americans had no health insurance in 2002,according to a recent Census Bureau report.

If you do have health insurance and you donot to live in Alabama, Idaho, North Dakota orOhio, your state has some type of law requiringhealth insurance coverage to include treatmentfor diabetes. That usually covers just one or twobrands of test strips; therefore, your favoritesystem may not be included.

This gives many of us apowerful reason to switchto a lower-cost bloodglucose testing system.The meter itself is usuallydeeply discounted, if notfree. Lancets and controlsolution are insignificantcosts. The main costcomes from buying thestrips, particularly if youtest as often as medicalauthorities would likeyou to.

What Are YourOptions?

Of the 14 brands of bloodglucose meters now onthe market, some of thesmaller ones offerthe least-expensive testing. The strips for two ofthese meters are, in fact, less than half the cost ofthe main brands.


The current price leader is Infopia’s EasyGluco. Abox of 50 strips lists for $17.95 or 36 cents each.


QuestStar Medical expects that its Focus meterwill be available by press time. This company willoffer one or twoboxes of 50 stripsfor $19.95, or threeor more boxesof 50 strips for$18.95 per box.That’s as low as38 cents each.


Until recently the price winner was the ReliOnsystem marketed by Wal-Mart and Sam’s Clubs.You can buy 50 strips for $21.94, or 100 for $42.48.That’s as low as 42 cents each.


The newest Home Diagnostics meter, theTrueTrack, is available through mail-ordersuppliers and major pharmacies, including CVS,Eckerd and Walgreens. Strips for this meter retailfor as low as $44.99 for 100, or 45 cents each. Inaddition, the TrueTrack has specs that rival thoseof the market leaders: a 10-second test time anda 1-microliter sample size.

Sometimes, Less Is More

To be sure, the specs for most of these meterscan’t compare with the best offerings of thebiggest companies. But if you can live with a testtime of about 9 to 30 seconds and a sample sizeof 3 to 7 microliters, any of the first three meters isworth your consideration.

Please see my Meters page at for more information and links to manufacturers’Web sites.



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