WRITTEN BY: JULIA FLAHERTY
Diabetes is a costly disease in many ways. Accessing critical diabetes supplies like continuous glucose monitors (CGMs) and medication like insulin is a problem for many people.
If you are struggling to afford the medication and supplies you need to survive, utilize these resources:
- Your Guide to CGM Access + Affordability
- Managing Diabetes Without Insurance
- Get Involved with Access Advocacy
Pricing is still one of the most significant barriers people with diabetes face in accessing a CGM. Here are some actionable tips if you do not have insurance and are trying to get one.
If you don’t have health insurance, this doesn’t always mean you can’t access a continuous glucose monitor. While health insurance may make it easier for some people with diabetes to access a CGM at an affordable rate, this isn’t always the case.
Even if you have a high deductible healthcare plan (HDHP), you may find that some continuous glucose monitors like the Freestyle Libre 2 (FSL2) cost less out of pocket without running insurance.
A Freestyle Libre 2 sensor can be purchased without insurance at many pharmacy counters across the United States for typically around $130-140 for two sensors—about a month’s worth of supplies. (Exact costs vary depending on patient circumstances and location.) So long as you have a prescription for the product, you should be able to fill it and purchase it for around this price point.
Abbott lists the price of the Freestyle Libre 2 handheld reader at $65 when run with insurance. But the Freestyle Libre 2 reader can also be replaced by its corresponding smartphone app, which has the same features, benefits, and functionality. So, if you don’t have insurance and already have a smartphone, this could be another way to save money and ensure access to all the technology you need.
If you don’t have a smartphone or insurance, various websites list the Freestyle Libre 2 reader for anywhere between $100 to $150. While this can be a significant expense upfront, it should only be a one-time expense that lasts many years, saving you money over time.
Sometimes, having a wholesale membership from Costco or Sam’s Club may save you a little money on the newest CGM technology without insurance. While this is not always the case, it’s still worth investigating in the cost-savings process!
Here is the 2022 cost breakdown of popular CGMs like the Freestyle Libre 2 and Dexcom G6 on Costco’s website.*:
- Dexcom cost breakdown: When you search for “Dexcom G6” on Costco’s website, Costco Pharmacy lists a pack of three Dexcom G6 sensors for $306.23, one receiver for $196.49 (a one-time expense), and one transmitter for $128.04. Since a Dexcom G6 transmitter typically lasts 90 days (3 months), your monthly Dexcom G6 refill costs (not including the one-time price of the receiver) at Costco are $348.91 when dividing expenses over 12 months.
- What is the total cost of Dexcom at Costco with membership? Including the membership cost ($60 annually in 2022for their lowest plan) would increase the “monthly” bill by $5, putting your total costs at $353.91 per month over 12 months.
- Freestyle Libre 2 cost breakdown: When searching for “Freestyle Libre 2” on Costco’s website, Costco Pharmacy currently lists a Freestyle Libre 2 reader for $71.49 (a one-time cost) and one sensor for $64.93. Since you need two sensors per month because it lasts 14 days, this would bring your monthly bill to about $129.86—not accounting for the 2-to-3-day gap for months that are 30 or 31 days and not including the one-time cost of an FSL2 reader.
- What is the total cost of FSL2 at Costco with membership? Including the membership cost ($60 annually in 2022 for their lowest plan) would increase the “monthly” bill by $5, putting your total costs at $134.86 per month if dividing your overall expenses over 12 months.
*This is just one example of popular CGM device pricing on a specific date in time. Exact costs may vary depending on patient circumstances, at what point in the future you fill your prescription and the location. Always contact your local Costco, Sam’s Club, or other pharmacies for exact prices on CGM supplies you want to fill without running insurance in your area.
Some CGM manufacturers have patient assistance programs (PAPs) that make affording and accessing their products more manageable when you don’t have insurance. For many people, paying hundreds of dollars out of pocket every month is simply unmanageable and unreasonable.
Here are some worth looking into when you need help getting a CGM without insurance:
- Dexcom Patient Assistance Program
- Eversense Patient Assitance Program
- Abbott Diabetes Care Patient Assistance Program
- Medtronic Diabetes Patient Relief Programs
While it’s not the best option if you’re tired of blood glucose meters (BGMs), investing in older diabetes technology can help you afford a CGM without insurance and get you away from irritating fingerpricks!
Several diabetes websites offer products like the Dexcom G4 or Freestyle Libre at discounted rates. These websites may also offer coupons or discounts on recurring orders.
Here are some worth looking into if you’re willing to wear older tech:
This guide touches the surface of the complexities of CGM access and affordability. Many other parameters affect it. If you struggle to access one after acting on these steps, remember to utilize the abovementioned resources or see if you qualify for the Freestyle Libre or Dexcom trial programs.