Medicare - not enough sensors

I use Dexcom G6 CGM sensors under Medicare. G6 sensors will only work for 10 days, at least if you want to control BG with Control IQ. Medicare will only send you 3 sensors every 30 days. This seems perfect except real situations interfere. Here are some issues:

  1. Your doctor doesn’t send in medical notes every 60 days, so the supplier won’t issue the G6 order so delays.
  2. Your renewal date falls on a weekend or holiday, so there are delays in shipping.
  3. The supplier has to do a yearly audit before shipping, so more delays.
  4. The shipping company (FedEx, UPS) doesn’t deliver on weekends or holidays so there are delays in receiving the G6.
    And there are your own issues like pulling out a sensor as an accident or similar.

Does anyone else have these issues? If so, how do you overcome them? And, isn’t it ironic that CDC guidance says, “Have 60-90 days supply of your medicines” while Medicare says “we won’t ship you even enough to cover your daily needs”. I would really like to hear how others cope with this situation or tell me I’m alone in it.

Thanks very much!

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Although Dexcom makes it difficult to restart sensors with G6, it is possible and will help you build up a stash to protect you from supplier disruptions. It gets a bit tougher with transmitters since as far as I know, there is no way to reset G6 transmitters.

This video shows the technique I use. I struggled with using a test strip to remove my transmitter on my arm and have had better success with a guitar pick or a hair clip.

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Thank you so much. I hadn’t found that video or that way of doing a restart. The older ways didn’t work for me, so I thought it was a lock by Dexcom. Thank you very much!!!

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Some Medicare suppliers, like US Med will ship 90 days of Dexcom CGM supplies (9 G6 sensors + 1 transmitter). That gives you more breathing room for early failures.

I’ve also used a thin guitar pick to remove the transmitter from the sensor holder in order to restart the sensor for another session. It work well.

I love restarting my sensors, they work better for me when I do. Because of restarting them all the time I have a pretty good back up supply. Hopefully when they switch to G7 and we might not be able to restart them, we can switch to the new sensors and build a back up supply of them too by using up the old ones first.

@Marie20, how do you determine that a sensor has reached end-of-life? Do you finger-stick or does the sensor issue a failure alert?

I have a pretty tight range so if things start seeming off I can usually tell? Sometimes it’s right after a restart, the second or third one, they just won’t fall into line, the other thing that can happen is it will start reading higher than I am and I will try to calibrate it and it will go back to being higher.

But two thirds at least of the time, I lose the signal a couple of times a day on my phone. Within a day my readings will start to be wonky. I hardly ever lose a signal on my phone, the reader sometimes. So that is one of the biggest tip offs.

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Is it possible to buy a supply of extra sensors. I am on Medicare and waiting for delivery of my first Dexcom 6 (my first CGM after being a T1 for 65 years). It took a year to finally get approved by Medicare.

Can you share what caused delays? Many were covered by MC for G5, and then automatically upgraded to G6.

Yes, Dexcom does sell them and you may be able to buy them for less elsewhere.

First Dexcom took forever in processing my request then doctor’s office was not sending the correct information Byram needed to get Medicare approval. You wouldn’t believe that a person with T1 for 65 years who has been on a pump for 25 years would have so much trouble getting approval for a CGM.

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I think some delay issues may have been related to covid, people working remotely, longer response time between parties, etc.

I recently got new pump, which also took too long, partly due to these reasons.

The restart thing @Laddie suggests is probably the best route. My insurance is great, but I still like to have at least one sensor beyond the statutory 3 sensors/month for just-in-case, so I usually roll over one or two just to stay ahead. The other thing is that Dexcom is very generous about sending free ones when you have a problem. That includes bad insertions where the filament ends up causing you pain, which can happen. I’ve had a few replaced for that reason.

@jimi2:

When I went from G5 to G6 on Medicare, I had a modest start of G5 sensors and some transmitter life. As a result, I intentionally did not start to use the G6 until the end of the first month … so I started G6 usage with a i month cushion in both sensors and transmitter life. While that doesn’t help you now, it is a extra reason to try to build a stash of G6 so that you can do this on the G6 to G7 transition.

It’s unfortunate that Medicare has no mechanism to deal with the delays that we all experience and we have to rely on our own creativity and ingenuity to try to make their policies work in the real world.

I hope you enjoy you G6 and can begin to gradually build up a stash of sensors.

Stay safe!

John

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This was my biggest problem with byram and others. i was out of sensors every month because they only did 30 day orders. im on medicare and use the libre but i got 7 boxes or 98 days when i started and got my reorder before the 90 days was even up. such a difference

find another supplier. i use wellstart medical for my libre. they do 90 day orders. took me forever to find as i reserached forever to find a supplier that wouldnt do a 30 day order

If your sugars are in pretty good control you can restart your sensor a few times then u will have 3 extra. If you run high a lot then they won’t likely last.

Very informative thanks! I am in Medicare, and in June, I was upgraded to the G6, and so far so good. I noticed in your video that your received is red. I’d LOVE to have a red one! So much easier to see in my purse or around the house! Black blends in with EVERYTHING! Any suggestions?

That’s from a pink “skin” that fits over the back of the receiver. My receiver came with tow or three of those.

I guess the Medicare package doesn’t include the skins. Thanks!