I've mentioned this idea several times. Now I'm going to put my money where my mouth is. I am no longer going to depend on my insurance for test strips. They only cover a brand that I don't care for, and their co-pay is only slightly less than I can buy out-of-pocket generics with cash.

There is a real problem here. Name brand test strips are able to raise their price as high as they want with no consequence, because very few people are buying them out-of-pocket... which has allowed the entire test strip market to devolve into the giant insurance scam market that it is.

This is a long shot but a groundswell has to start somewhere. I challenge each of you who can afford it to purchase 2 months worth of low priced strips out-of-pocket, and recruit 2 friends to do the same. The only force in the world that can lower the price of name-brand strips is real market competition from lower priced generics.

I'm sympathetic to the idea that test strip margins are too high, but it's always been odd to me that insurance companies don't seem to have more leverage. Insurance companies can negotiate prices and put certain strips in preferred pricing categories, and can even refuse to cover certain strips at all. The test strip makers sometimes fight back with discount plans that cover part of the co-pays, basically undercutting the market incentives, but that seems rare. So why don't insurance companies have more leverage to curb the cost of test strips?

Personally, I use an expensive, brand name strip seems very accurate to me, that gets rated as very accurate when tested, that uses the smallest amount of blood of any strip on the market (for some time now, and I don't think has been superseded), and that allows secondary filling if the initial blood was insufficient, and that my insurance covers with a reasonable co-pay, though co-pays don't matter much to me because I meet my (modest, because great insurance) personal out of pocket maximum easily each year.

So I applaud your initiative but am not motivated to join the effort.

That’s the whole point-- everyone should be able to afford a great system like you use, with or without insurance coverage-- because it’s only actually a few dollars worth of product. Yet when astronomical markups push its retail price to hundreds a month, many of us can’t afford it. The only thing that can change that is competition. Currently, the insurance market doesn’t allow for any meaningful competition— only we the consumers can change that, and yes we would have to go a bit out of our way to do it

My pump requires a certain meter to link, so I can't join the boycott. But I will be happy to wave the flag with you Sam!

Reply to Niccolo
please share with me the brand of your high qual strips…best regards

Insurance companies allow for a lot of competition already, which suggests to me that the markups may not be quite as high as we think. Because while that dollar may not be coming out of our own pockets, it is coming out of the insurance company's pocket, and ultimately out of everyone pocket because it influences the cost of insurance.

But I agree with you there seems to be room for more competition.

Freestyle Lite. Really liked them when Therasense was a small upstart company, not as big a fan of Abbott which subsequently bought them, but the test strips are the same. The rest of the market has moved in their direction in terms of sample size, though, so they're not as much of an advantage as they were.

I wouldn't say the "only force" is out of pocket purchasing. I have long suspected some type of collusion between insurers and, perhaps test strip manufacturers and, perhaps, the medical industry (doctors, CDE?) who get in the way of free access to supplies. If there were some sort of collusion, it could be proven to be illegal, in which case a claim for "damages" might be the sort of force, that would serve us well...

The insurance plans are paying a negotiated price which is not the same thing as retail. It is kept a big secret what they actually pay when a customer bills a product to a prescription plan.

My EOB (explanation of benefit) shows the charge and what insurance pays. So there is no secret, at least not in any of my transaction or record. Thankfully they do negotiate the price or we'd be paying retail.

I buy Bayer strips At Insurance Co (BCBS) will only pay for One touch but they will not work with my wireless meter which is part of my MM530G system. My out of pocket is almost the same if I shop around on line. I'm sure my insurance company loves it, and it really changes nothing for Bayer I'm still using test strips and the test strip company is still getting what ever there wholesale price is. I don't understand your case...your insurance co is the one inflating the price....I'm sure your test strip company has a wholesale price based on quantity's and their distributors pay for strips based on these prices....its the third party that's inflating the price...Like ExspressScrpts.....JMHO

It has been my business experience...that if a company starts giving some of there customers deeply discounted prices and not the others then the relationship with those becomes hostile...(they get "MAD")

My case is to buy the low priced generics, which can be done for less than 50/month for 300 strips. If enough of us did this the big brand names would sell less and could lower their prices accordingly… Currently they have no incentive to do so, because very, very few people pay the retail price for them, so they aren’t actually in direct competition with generic strips like relion prime, truetest, etc. The only way they will be in direct competition with the lower priced ones is if they start losing significant market share to them.

I can buy what you consider Big Brand on line for the same price that you can buy cheaper ones at CVS, Walgreens, Wall-Mart. Just purchased 300 Bayer Contour Next strips at Amazon 64.00....with no shipping charge. I suspect the big markup happens at the retail outlet. I'm paying 22c each on line from a medical supply house...Walgreens is selling them for $1.00 each and ExspressScrpts says they cost $1.55 each...and they charge me 160.00 for 700, I bet they all pay the same price for them.

Good to hear-- you’re already doing your part. Bauer next is one of the very few affordable brand names-- try to find a price like that on one touch or freestyle

Depending upon who the Amazon seller is, you may well be buying strips an insurer has already paid for once. The gray market in strips is huge.

My insurance company pays around $1400 per 90 day supply for my test strips, I pay a $20 copay. I receive an eob for everything, rx, medical appointments and procedures, which tells me how much was charged and how much they paid which is often greatly reduced for things like procedures & doctors visits. The test strips appear to have no reduction. The problem is with the original price of the test strips which probably cost pennies to make, yet most of them cost $1 or more on the retail and in some cases the insurance market. There is no way I would be able to afford what I use in test strips even with the generic lower cost strips or gray market strips. It's life saving and life improving so I would probably have to buy some extra out of pocket if I get my coverage changed. I support lowering the price of test strips overall and making most of them fit any meter as well as having the same or similar accuracy and features.

Refillable ones sound great to me, I don't think mine do that. I like my meter because it attaches to my phone to directly upload readings and it's very small, I have enough to carry around with me as it is. I like the phone app so much for doing my record keeping that even if I were forced to use different strips I would keep using it and enter the bg record manually. Again all of this is important to my daily survival and it makes my life much easier, diabetes is hard enough to manage so I try to make things as quick, easy and stress free as possible.

I agree, Sam. The marketplace for test-strips is anything but free. It is distorted by insurance companies looking for the best deal for themselves with no value placed in the health or well-being of their premium payers.

My economic situation differs from yours. I test a lot, like 14/day a lot! I can not build a rational case for me to buy strips out of pocket with that quantity.

I'm also concerned with good quality control as there is no after-market surveillance in place. Why would any profit-seeking org be concerned with quality control?

There is a move afoot to do post-market surveillance but it is not in place yet. If there were a robust third-party program that published regular findings and rankings then maybe these companies would improve their prices and quality.

On top of that, I expect that the CGMs will soon (next year or two) be able to get FDA approval to permit insulin dosing and corrections based on CGM results, with a few pointed exceptions. That would undercut a large segment of the strip volume. I might go from 14x/day to 4x/day. If that kind of volume reduction happened across the board, that would get the strip manufacturer's attention.

John, my doc wrote my order for strips and put the pump link as the reason for no substitution. Ask your doc to do the same. I know that some strips are not on the insurance formulary product list but they will still allow the pharmacy to fill the order. Depending on your particular coverage it may be covered entirely or at least partially.

I am so on board for this. Have been purchasing strips over the counter because they are cheaper than the ones my insurance subsidizes. They are almost half as expensive at Walmart. I was also thinking of having my A1c done at Walgreens, even though the Docs office wont like that very much. I could bring in the results. Now, if there was only some way I could get insulin Rx w/o going to the Doc. That would be really be something.

sam, here in spain i get my three accuchek strips a day, which would allow me to eat the same thing at the same time every day and do no exercise and just hope for the best.
when i go back to the states, i buy like 600 walmart strips as extra for the year. my mom will send more if necessary during the year.
they test about 25 points over my accuchek but as long as i know that, theyll do the job. i cant pay the market price for the 100 accuchek test strips at 84 euros.

im with you! (due to not having any choice, but im with you).