FUDiabetes

The best BG glucose meter that your insurance will pay for

What is the best glucose (BG) meter whose strips your insurance company will pay for?

We have frequently had threads about the best BG meter, or the best BG meter for running, or travel. For instance, I think @Eric and @Michel have researched for many hours the very best BG meters in existence, and those with the best price-performance combination, and even purchased and tested them.

But I don’t care which is absolutely the best: strips cost a lot of money, and, for many of us, we are bound to choose from glucose meters that are allowed by our insurance companies. So I went back to all the threads we had about BG meters, and the links we published, and reviewed the selections. Of all the presentations I have seen, this one, recently uploaded by @Michel, is the easiest to figure out:

Accuracy and availability discussion

This table shows results from a 2016 study. It roughly reflects the other tests that we have referenced at one time or another, although, when I look at all other tests I went through, I feel the two Accu-Chek meters, the Nano and the Aviva, come on top more often than the Contour Next, which is also almost always among the top. However, from what people have written in the forums, none of these meters (particularly the Accu-Cheks) are frequently allowed by North American insurance companies.

The Freestyle and the OneTouch, on the other hand, are often available on the formulary. This table lists the OneTouch VerioIQ next after the Contour, which I understand has the same strip engine as the OneTouch Verio. Other tests, however, often list some of the Freestyle meters ahead of the Verio, so I will rate them ahead of the Verio.

Of the rest of the list (including some additional"sister" meters), the meters frequently listed by our members are the OneTouch meters (Verio, VerioIQ, and Ultra/Ultra2), the Frestyle Freedom, Freestyle Freedom Lite and Freestyle Lite, and the ReliOn Prime.

Decision Tree

So, based on the data published on the forum so far, these are the best choices:

1. Meters rarely allowed

If you can get them paid for, or if you can afford the out-of-pocket cost, the most accurate overall probably are the Accu-Chek Nano, the Accu-Check Aviva and the Contour Next. Of these three, the Contour Next strips are the cheapest by far on Amazon (about $20/100 when bought in batches of 300).

2. If you can get the Freestyle family in your formulary

The Freestyle Freedom strips are embedded in the Omnipod PDM, so, if it is your system, you have no choice but to use it. However, the company specifically says that the Freedom strips are not compatible with the Freestyle Freedom Lite and the Freestyle Lite, and there are many DOC threads from several years ago that write the same thing and find a lack of accuracy when you do so. So, if you use the Omnipod, you must use the Freestyle Freedom.

If you don’t use the Omnipod, you cannot use the Freestyle Freedom because it is not for sale in North America, so you must use the Freestyle Freedom Lite or the Freestyle Lite (they both use the same strips). This blog compare them: the Freestyle freedom Lite has bigger numbers and is larger, while the Freestyle Lite is smaller and has a light—I like this one best, but, if you have poor vision and don’t care about a light, the Freestyle freedom Lite might be your favorite choice.

We have both Freestyle Freedoms and Freestyle Lites. Their size is comparable, but the Lite has a light, a useful feature. One of our Freedom meters was DOA, and Abbott replaced it (a good thing since they are not for sale any more).

Please note that @Eric says the Freestyle Freedom strips work on the Freestyle Lite meter (and therefore in the other Lite meter as well), but the company line is that you should not.

3. If you can only get the OneTouch meters in your formulary

In that case, the best choice is the OneTouch VerioIQ or the OneTouch Verio, both of which (they have the same strip engine) are more accurate than the other OneTouch meters, in particular the Ultra/Ultra 2. We have both the Verio and the Ultra. The Verio is larger, but more accurate, and uses much less blood than the Ultra2. It does not use the same strips as the Ultra 2. The Ultra/Ultra2 is more compact but less accurate, and requires more blood.

As for the VerioIQ and the Verio, the VerioIQ is larger and bulkier, with a limited ability to recognize some BG patterns. The biggest difference is that the VerioIQ is rechargeable, while the Verio is battery-operated. We do own a VerioIQ but have never used it, as we don’t like the need to recharge for multiple hours.

As a note, we have seen one Verio meter break down every year in the past 2 years.

4. Your don’t have BG meters on your insurance formulary

The cheapest strips whose BG meter is also reasonably well rated are the ReliOn Prime strips, available at Walmart only, generally for less than $18 per 100.

It is sometimes possible to find cheaper strips on Amazon for the True Metrix meter, but this meter has been panned by many threads or blogs due to inaccuracy, so I only mention its name as an FYI.

There you have it, then—the most cost efficient BG meters that fit your insurance formulary!

Some references




End of wiki ---------- comments start here

7 Likes

Mary Pat, should you turn this into a wiki? This is really good info!

1 Like

I am not sure I will know how to do it. I may need some help. I will spend some time reviewing what we have written about wikis tonight.

I am curious: all, are Mary Pat’s 4 primary cases matching with your insurance formulary?

They are with ours: we only get access to OneTouch, or to the Freestye Freedom if on Omnipod.

1 Like

But you have UHC which is is notorious but restricting choices - no?

My experience on two other national insurance companies is no discussion about which brand meter or strip we want to use. Whatever. Just need the script from the Endo which covers how many strips per day.

2 Likes

Prior to 1 Jan we had Kaiser, the only choice was the OneTouch Ultra 2. Now that we are back on our old company, we have the choice of any our physician writes it for, can’t wait to get that first appointment under our belt.

Edit: with the lack of choice, came as many strips as our physician wrote per month for only a $5 copay, which was nice.

3 Likes

My insurance covers the OneTouch meters only. I really don’t like how the Verio has to be recharged every two weeks whereas meters I had in the past required a battery replacement every 1-2 years. I’d rather not have to think about the battery so often.

2 Likes

My insurance also only allows one touch. I use verioIQ and agree having to charge frequently is a pain.

There is a Verio (no IQ) that uses same strips, that I also use, especially when traveling. It uses batteries. Not sure if that is still available.

2 Likes

I think you are using the VerioIQ. The regular Verio uses batteries.

Yes, it is still available. It is actually easier to find than the VerioIQ in our neck of the woods.

1 Like

I didn’t realize there were two different forms of the Verio meter, but yes, the VerioIQ requires that the battery be recharged every 2 weeks.

2 Likes

I have just been informed by some members that, with Aetna and with their local BlueShield plans, they have no problem with option 1: they could pick the meter their physician prescribed.

This may be different in other states for BlueShield, since plans vary per state.

1 Like

Just want to point out things work differently in Canada – with our motley mix of provincial public plans, and private plans that may not align with their American counterparts, and with meters and strips sometimes having different names here or not being available at all – so perhaps the wiki should use “the U.S.” instead of “North America.”

For instance:

FreeStyle Freedom products have been discontinued in Canada. Insulet Canada and Health Canada approve the use of both FreeStyle and FreeStyle Lite strips in the PDM (although I believe the original FreeStyle has been phased out). So Canadians who use the Omnipod must use FreeStyle Lite strips.

3 Likes

That is really interesting: in Canada they are saying you should use the same strips, and they should be Lite strips. But in the US it is the opposite, how weird.

I wonder if the Lite strips worth on both but the Freedom strips don’t work well on the Lite meters.

I guess the only way to know would be to test it…

They both work fine on either.

2 Likes

I just called Insulet, and asked specifically about (a) the difference between the Freedom and the Freedom Lite, and (b) the fact that I had been told Insulet Canada recommends both Freedom and Lite strips.

The rep thoroughly checked her info, and told me that:

  • Insulet Canada recommends both the Freestyle Freedom and the Freestyle Lite strips for use in the PDM

  • Insulet in the USA is regulated by the FDA and cannot recommend the Lite strips.

My conclusion is that @Eric is right, and both will work. But this is something everyone of us needs to decide. The good part about this, if you feel it will work for you, is that it is possible to buy as many backup Freedom Lite meters as you want, and use them with the Freedom strips we get when we are on the Omnipod system in the US.

2 Likes

@Beacher, what is your experience of what limitations you see on choice of meters where you live?

The US can also be very fractured by state, btw, such as with BlueShield plans.

You know I don’t listen to the FDA. :wink:

Same thing with them telling everyone that the Canadian PDMs don’t work with US pods, and vice versa. We proved that to be wrong a few months ago, thanks to my secret Canadian co-conspirator.
canadian-US-omnipod-swap-test

Sometimes you just gotta test and figure it out yourself. Diabetes is much easier when you remove all the bureaucracy and red-tape.

2 Likes

I haven’t done any in-depth investigation, but with several private plans in several provinces over nearly three decades, I have never been told which meters I could or could not purchase. My current private plan limits how often I can get reimbursed for a meter, but not what brand. This may reflect the fact that they all cost about the same (CAN$35 to $45; the Accu-Chek Mobile and the Contour Next USB are about double that, while the GE200 is only $4.99).

My provincial public plan doesn’t cover meters but does cover strips (up to a certain number per year), and the formulary lists 31 brands, which sounds like it could include all the available ones (https://www.formulary.health.gov.on.ca/formulary/results.xhtml?class=960500000).

If you don’t have any insurance coverage, or your insurance doesn’t cover certain things, a percentage of medical expenses can be deducted from income tax. The federal tax bureau does not restrict the brand of meter, but does say a prescription is necessary.

1 Like

The Contour Next One (not the Contour Next USB) is about $5-$10 on Amazon. It uses the same strips. It is basically the same meter, except uploading BG’s requires a phone instead of a USB connection. Much cheaper though.

If you can’t get it shipped by Amazon to Canada, I can help you out.

3 Likes

i just want to put in my 2 cents about One Touch. i am on Medicare and it is the ONLY company that they will cover. they cover 300 strips per month 100% FREE.

i dont use a CGM anymore, so i finger stick it about 20 times per day. i used to go buy my extra OOP strips form the CVS, then i was turned on to Amazon. and with both erics and michels suggestions, i bought the Contour Next One meter and test strips; 600 strips for $150. i love this meter; it also sports a back light which makes things really easy for the times that i need it. and, i find it to be extremely accurate until your BGs are over 250; then it gets wonky. otherwise, i am a big fan and find it totally worth the cost.

however, to speak up for One Touch, i have tried almost all of their meters. I Hated the Verio. it gave me too many “false” highs. whenever i tested it against other meters, this was a consistant problem. so, it may have been free cost-wise b/c it is made by One Touch, but it was not good for me. on another hand, i hear everyone disliking the Ultra and the Ultra2; i LOVE both of these meters. especially the Ultra2 which not only gives me VERY ACCURATE results, but b/c it not only has a back light, but it holds a tremendous amount of information should you wish to use it. (and that info is there whether you want to use it or you choose not to use it).

when i have tested my One Touch in my endo’s office against the blood drawn from my vain, it has proven its accuracy. so despite the fact that it requires a larger blood drop on its test strip than the other newer meters, i have stuck with it for all these years. there are many other One Touch meters that i have tried as well, and these two meters in particular have stood the test of time for me while the company’s other meters have fallen short.

and just to boast, my A1c was taken this week and it was 5% :wink:

i hope this helps someone with their decision making as it has helped me.

4 Likes