Pump and CGM alternatives

My current setup is I run a Medtronics 670G pump and the associated CGM sensors.
I’ve used this system for several years with good results and aside from a few irritations I’m happy with it. I’m a LADA Type 1 and use an average of between 25 and 30 units a day.

At the end of 2021 the company I work for is closing the location I work out of and ending my position so I will be unemployed for the first time in close to 25 years.
This change will result in loss of insurance and although I have a good nest egg I’m not ready for retirement yet and too young for Medicare.

So, my question is does anyone have any advice on how and where to acquire insulin, syringes and test strips at a reasonable cost?
I currently have a supply of Humalog (in vials and a few pens) squirreled away that could last me more than 2 years and a small supply of Lantus (probably a few months). I don’t have any syringes and a limited supply of pump infusion sets, reservoirs and CGM sensors.

I originally switched from using pens to a pump because I needed better precision in dosing than pens offer. This is a primary reason why I’m asking about syringes, I think they can be acquired in configurations that enable better control over dose sizes.
Please advise me if this an invalid assumption!

Thanks in advance for any advice.

*** UPDATE ***
Please don’t suggest COBRA, I’m well aware of it and plan to sign up but not for any longer than absolutely necessary. The premium will be more than $800 a month which is much more than I want to pay.
Obamacare has been suggested, I hadn’t even thought about it but will look into it.

i noticed at Walmart, a lady picked up her prescription for regular and nph insulin, so it seems that might be one of the more economically feasible options. Keep in mind this will be temporary, and eventually, you’ll have a new job that might cover omnipod and dexcom, or maybe only insulin pens and a freestyle libre2, afrezza might be a possibility, tresiba is my favorite long acting(but took a few days of fasting to figure out the most comfortable dose), at any rate, you will discover there are lots of options that will work, and you may need to remind yourself to plead the 5th amendment during your interviews. most pharmacies now have the dexcom 6 although a prior authorization is usually necessary, and the libre2, or 14 day libre(might need a bubble and specific sponsored watch to see watchface readings, but you can make it work with a little research)…blucon works with apple, but id stay away from miaomiao, as their app is terrible and doesn’t work with xdrip unless you have android 9=2019 Android phone that wont update…sorry to rant, but good luck

You can do mail order from Canada. It’s incredibly cheaper.
A box of syringes are cheap you can get taht at any pharmacy.
There are insurance options for you every state has them and sill for now you can get insurance even with a preexisting condition.

Your company should offer you a cobra plan (same benefits) so you could maintain current coverage, but higher cost for monthly premium, up to 18 months.

I’m aware of COBRA but don’t want to drop over $800 per month just to avoid hopefully spending less for supplies.
Yes, I will “probably” be able to find a new job but in today’s climate I am not going to make that assumption.
I don’t want to start a political rant so I will just say there are reasons finding a new job may not be as easy as it should be.

On the topic of mail order from Canada, where would a person start looking to find information on how to actually do that?

When it comes to syringes, I anticipate needing finely graduated ones, any suggestions on what to look for?
I’ve never used syringes so I’m not certain what to actually look for when choosing which to buy.
Same goes for the needles to use with the syringes, I assume the ones I have for pens will not work.

I spent over a decade paying for everything out of pocket because I had no good insurance. (Pre-existing condition exclusion). Breakdown:
1: R and N insulin OTC (today would be Walmart R and N).
2: Test strips (actually cheaper today than in decades past)
3: Doctor’s appointments with some negotiated rates below “full list” but still above what insurance would’ve paid.
4: For me the stickler was labwork. Full retail for lab work is just ridiculous, and typically 10x what the insurance company pays.

If you are getting laid off… you will have a COBRA option, yes? And when you find a new employer, the pre-existing condition and waiting list exclusions for diabetes have largely disappeared. It’s not like 25 years ago. Even if you end up with bad insurance and paying through the teeth for prescriptions, at least you’ll have the pre-negotiated insurance rates for labwork etc.

I think you would also qualify for “obamacare plans”, low cost when you have no/low income. May find one with no/low deductible for pharmacy.

I left my company in 2018, and one day after employer plan ended, I was in ER with a kidney stone. Was glad i had cobra. You never know…

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I should’ve been clearer. I plan to sign up for COBRA but do not want to stay on it longer than necessary.

Thanks for the obamacare suggestion, I honestly hadn’t even considered it.
I wonder how a person’s “income” is measured, is it based on the prior calendar year, in my case 2021, or current monthly income which for a while may be limited to whatever unemployment pays. Just musing here so if someone says “go check the website” I’ll understand. :slight_smile:

Something to look into as well as possible Medical CO-OPs.

I didn’t really want to focus on insurance though.
Possibly switching away from a pump to syringes will be a new thing and I’d like to hear what others have to say in regards to aspects that should be accounted for I may not be aware of.

I had a pen that would allow 1/2 unit increments for injection. I guess penfills are more expensive than vials of insulin. But much more convenient, and I’m not sure how big the cost difference is.

Here is discussion on insulin options, including Canada.

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Do you live in the USA? Then you can and should have COBRA. That is an extension of your employers insurance. The partial premium paid by you instead of them. That is the law. The HIPPA law that says your insurance is portable and you can have I think 18 months on Cobra. And no insurance can reject you for pre existing conditions.
If you are in the US sign up for Obama care at least if you are sre past the COBRA period

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No longer true see:



There are lots of Canadian pharmacies with very different deals. Get on pharmscychecker.com and see what’s the best for what you use. Then call or reach the pharmacy via email. They want to see a faxed copy of a doctor’s RX. Then their pharmacist checks it out and will ok it. The drugs come from different manufacturers if generic. It takes awhile to come by mail. But you can save a ton. My hubby needs Advair. But its not generic in the US. So we buy from Canada a generic equivalent and save thousands. We have Part D but it doesn’t help with the cost of his asthma drug.

@JudyC and @CJ114,
Thank you very much, that’s exactly the kind of information I’m looking for!!

Where do people find other diabetes supplies at a lower cost.
Insulin is the biggy but I have a decent supply for now.
What about test strips, syringes and needles.
I have absolutely no idea how much syringes and the associated needles cost, maybe I’m concerned about a true non-issue.
I suppose if I could get Infusion sets and reservoirs for the pump at reasonable cost that would be the best option. Maybe I should contact Medtronics as I suspect nobody makes 3rd party alternatives of those items.

Walmart test strips “Relion” are $18 for 100. Testing 8 times a day will be less than $50 month.

Store brand syringes are circa $15 for 100. 5x a day MDI will be about $20 a month.

If MDI you might do one vial each of R and N each month. From Walmart that’d be around $50 a month.

I did all OTC all out-of-pocket for decades before I got covered by insurance. While I’d rather not go back there, I do know it’s possible to have decent control with these supplies.

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For lab tests, I used Ulta Labs as @CJ114 suggested above. I used them since my endocrinologist refused to order a full thyroid panel. He only wanted to test one of about 5-6 items I wanted to check for my thyroid health.


I would suggest telling your doctor, don’t ask him outright to lie, but tell him you are losing your insurance and you need to up your usage. You can justify that you need more when you are sick or stressed etc and most doctors are pretty liberal with making sure you get enough under the worse conditions. You can also order a 3 month supply right before you lose insurance too. This can be said for all your equipment needs. My doctor writes my Omnipod pods to be changed out every 2 days as sometimes I have to do so, so now I have a back up supply for when I haven’t.

I am not saying to lie, that is fraud. But our usage can really vary under circumstances, so it’s best to have the higher amount to cover all situations.

The time you are on Cobra will also give you more time… I’ve had my Humalog 100 pens that I still use once in a while for over 5 years in the refrigerator and they still work fine.

Just a note…I know you have said you will go on cobra temporarily but that it is expensive. We paid $600 a month for about a year, so I know the ouch factor even when you have it in the bank account. But I also know especially with us being type 1’s, medical care is very expensive. When I was 20, 10 days after I got married I was having emergency surgery for appendicitis. Health insurance was not something we had thought about and I wasn’t a type 1 yet. Luckily my Dad had 2 policies, one through work and one because of his military service. The first one disqualified me the day I was married but the second one was good until the end of the month of when I became ineligible. Thank goodness, because I had major medical bills. Like @MM1 said with her, you just can’t tell when you will be happy to have it.

Insulin through Canada isn’t that badly priced, I’ve ordered through Marks Marine pharmacy in the past.

I think you are taking a huge risk to go completely without insurance. Yes, you can handle your diabetes. But what if you get long haul Covid? Cancer? Or other cr*pay medical things?

Syringes and pen needles are cheap. Depending on your state, you may or may not need prescriptions for those items. Pen needles are cheap when purchasing from Amazon or some medical supply outfits. Maybe $10-12 for a 100 needles if you don’t care about brand. Amazon is cheap also but there is a glitch where they won’t ship to certain states. I live in Minnesota and can’t get pen needles through Amazon but can get them through medical suppliers. I get a box of Walgreens brand syringes for about $17 for 100 syringes. I rarely use syringes so have not bothered to price shop.

Be careful ordering from Canada. The first order I tried to place (for a medication for my dog) ended up with nothing being shipped and our credit card being hacked.

I ultimately used Marks Marine Pharmacy and they were great.


Many insulin mfg offer discounts. I currently get novolog insulin for $99, for up to 3 vials. My insurance covers humalog, but I prefer novolog, and much lower cost. Program may end in December, but will be checking if they extend into 2022.


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