Venting about UHC


I just had the unfortunate experience of making my second trip to our (generally great) pharmacy in two days.

I wanted to pick up Freestyle test strips to use with the OmniPod PDM. I am trying to convince Eric to use that as his primary meter as he always has it on him. He’s been lax lately about taking the Freestyle Lite meter out of the car and his Dexcom has been unreliable lately. So I’m searching for a solution. He felt the PDM wasn’t as accurate using the Freestyle Lite test strips. So I contacted our CDE, she went through the pre-authorization steps that United HealthCare requires. I am alerted both by the CDE and by Costco Pharmacy that the RX is ready for pickup.

First trip, they’ve filled the RX with Freestyle Lite strips. Nope, sorry, we need Freestyle strips. They have them, they run the approval and text me to come back to get the RX.

Round two, I arrive and while they have the strips they don’t seem to be approved to be paid by my insurance at all (and the RX was unfortunately written for 5x a day, which isn’t enough when using the meter and no CGM. But I don’t want to argue because I’m exhausted and just want the strips. I can argue next month when I have more energy.) So she reruns it and UHC bounces it again. The super nice pharmacy tech tells me to call United HealthCare, so I decamp to the Depends aisle to make my call.

After 23 minutes on the phone (with a wonderful, but limited by a very stupid system, RN who was helpful) I have found that our endo needs to call yet another number and speak with yet another human to get approval for more than 50 strips a month.

At which point I made it clear I wasn’t pissed at the lady on the phone but I wanted my ire recorded so hopefully someone who gives a hoot at UCH would realize that when you tell a person with T1D that they can test their BG 1.66 times a day your insurance company WILL wind up paying for complications.

And I know, I know, I can just go buy test strips over the counter. But I feel like if my freaking insurance company is going to approve and supply me with a pump with an included, built in meter - the option to have strips for that meter should be on the table!!!

So now I have to go back to Costco tomorrow, hopefully, and waste more of everyone’s time. And my CDE has to make another phone call.

And all because our healthcare system completely lacks any transparency. It should not take three people five separate phone calls to different numbers at one organization to figure out the answer to one simple question.


Yes, I know the insurance stuff sucks!

But as a practical solution, if the meter on the PDM seems to be consistently higher or lower with the Freestyle Lite strips, you can change the calibration number on the PDM to adjust this!


This is good advice! I was thinking if he could remember that it’s +/– X, he could just mentally adjust. But if there’s a way to calibrate it…AND our first PDM broke mid-summer so maybe this new one is better?

I’m sure everyone here has a whole book’s worth of insurance sucks stories. I was just so pissed because I had trotted out all the tricks I’ve learned here on FUD to not have to make three trips to the pharmacy and it didn’t work. :smile:


@TravelingOn Something else to consider/ask is if they already ran the RX for the freestyle lite strips payment with the insurance company? If so, they have to back out of that purchase before they can run another RX for strips. Something similar happened with my strips; I think it was when we couldn’t use strips dated before August 2015, something like that. Using three-way phone calling I had my insurer on the phone, along with my pharmacy. Together they worked it out until the RX payment went through for the second purchase in as many days (even though I didn’t take the first purchase because of the date, it had been billed to the insurance company.)


lol. It must be a CVS thing! We’ve been getting our FREESTYLE strips filled for over 2 years and they STILL don’t get the right ones most of the time (they give us the Lites many times.) Even though it’s been said here that the Lite strips can be used, we want the Freestyle strips, so we always make them change it out.

CVS wants us to go to ‘mail-order’ and we laugh and I always say…“If you can just give us 2 pick-ups (that’s just 180 days…1 pickup every 90 days” where you get EVERYTHING correct, we’ll consider it…but we inevitibely always get something in our order that isn’t correct. Now, many times, this is because the Doctor put something in wrong, too, so CVS is actually filling the order - it’s just been submitted incorrectly.

But yeah, I feel your pain on the strips.


It’s crazy because they’re not the same - if they were I wouldn’t have had the issue. We are approved for the Lite! Lol!

Your stash, @ClaudnDaye, inspired me. So I want to have the right stuff! :smile:


What kind of differences are you seeing with the two strips?


Well, the packaging… :rofl:

I’m not sure honestly. We got a few strips with the OmniPod and I wasn’t closely keeping track. EH reported that it didn’t match his Freestyle Lite meter’s reading so he didn’t trust it. However, the meter could’ve been breaking or somehow sucky otherwise. I believe I’ve since tossed that meter in the trash.

I need to do more research, hence trying to get this RX filled so I can test “Freestyle” versus “Freestyle Lite” strips. I’ve got a ton of meters now (emergency stash of replacement Freestyle Lites, a Freestyle Freedom, a Walgreens brand I can’t find at this moment, and the OmniPod PDM meter). And I intend to test them once I have strips and a boyfriend in a good mood. :joy: :syringe: :kissing_heart:


To add to the stupidity of my life…

My mother JUST returned from Walgreens trying ALSO to get the “Freestyle” strip for her Freestyle Freedom meter and was told by the pharmacist “you can no longer get those strips they’ve been discontinued.”


EH spent twenty minutes on the phone with Abott/Freestyle and indeed the “Freestyle” strips are no longer manufactured. He’s now calling Insulet to figure out what’s happening with this.


What Insulet will do is spend a lot of money coming up with a solution. Some little insignificant peon in the Insulet meeting will mention that in Canada the PDM’s are approved for use with FreeStyle Lite strips. The little peon will mention that Health Canada has approved the use of both FreeStyle and FreeStyle Lite strips for use with the OmniPod PDM. Who knows, maybe he read it on FUD, because it was posted here.

That person will be ignored.

Then weeks later, some big shot executive at Insulet will mention that in Canada, the FreeStyle Lite strips are approved for use with the PDM. Everyone will tell the exec how brilliant he is!

Insulet will spend a lot of money on testing to get it FDA approved, and will also spend money updating their literature, training, support, and who knows what else.

So a year from now, this will be resolved. You will be able to use the FreeStyle Lite strips with the OmniPod PDM.

Or, you can use them now and not sweat it.


Nope. Their answer is: we’ve got nothin’. And we will develop a solution using the Contour strips in the next year.

So we will go to using the Freestyle Lite strips because we read it on FUD. :wink:


That’s kinda crappy if you don’t want to use their phake fone PDM that has no meter.


I know I’m the pump hater here, and this is somewhat off topic, but I don’t understand the point of this omnipod dash system when it just sounds like the original needs a refresh with a pdm that uses modern strips in it, not a new system that requires 3 devices (technically, if you wanna use the pdm+phone for the apps that you use on your phone) + the pump and cuts down on the freedom of the user.

I’m a huge fan of contour next meters , and I think it’s great they wanna use those for their next system (though freestyle lite strips are almost about the same accuracy ) and I love the contour next one, but the whole point of the omnipod is to free you from tubes and make your life easier, it ain’t easier to have to lug around a pdm, a meter separately, and make sure you have apps on your phone to use it to it’s fullest …it seems like a downgrade , and making it harder for people who have the current system to get strips is just ??? Just upgrade the original make it use contour next strips or something, there ya go. Let’s just screw the consumer more though I guess?


I agree that the whole new thing seems wacky. The current system works. And apparently works with existing Lite strips. Not sure what they’re thinking.

Well, for EH my partner, it has actually made his life a lot easier. He has better overall control and a much easier time with exercise because he can suspend his basal insulin delivery.

But you’re right in saying that hauling around even more stuff isn’t helpful.

And I know nothing about the Dash system and am unsure if Insulet was referring to the Dash when discussing the Contour strips.

I am glad to know you like the Contour One meter though! That’s great to hear.


I am not an expert on the Omnipod but I believe the Dash system is is merely a stepping stone towards their goal. The Horizon system would appear to be where they are really headed. Although I am a fan of multiple smaller steps as opposed to one huge leap, in this case the Dash seems to generate more questions in terms of the purpose.


Not sure what information you were getting on this but I just picked up my prescription for FreeStyle strips. I had no problem getting them, 900 strips!

So I am guessing the problem you are having is with with insurance or your pharmacist. It does not seem to be a problem with the availability of the strips.

I asked the pharmacist and she said that she had not heard anything about those strips being discontinued.

Abbott Diabetes Care is located right up the street from you, in Alameda. Might we worth dropping into their office and trying to get some straight answers?


That is fascinating! I was convinced that my mom’s pharmacist must be wrong. But Eric called and talked to them? If I am up in the bay area again and on that side of the Bay, I will swing by and talk to somebody at Abbot!

When I told him that you had said that the Freestyle Lite test strips i’ve been approved for use in the Omnipod PDM, but only in Canada, he was totally ticked off that we had spent a bunch of time trying to sort out the test strip issue. :neutral_face:


Who is saying they are discontinued? The pharmacist?

You can go in there, get on the phone and call my CVS and put them on speaker and ask my CVS pharmacy if they are discontinued, and let your pharmacist hear the answer.