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Where can I get a blood glucose meter?

William Lee Dubois
Endocrinology Diabetes & Metabolism

First and foremost. Never buy a meter. You can get free ones from your doctor, diabetes educator, or at a community health fair. You can also go online to any of the manufacturers and request a free meter and they’ll send you one.


Why? Well, let’s take a quick tour of the history of business and industry.


Back before disposable razors, the Gillette company sold cheep razors that used replaceable blades. They realized that the money wasn’t in the razor—a man might only buy a single razor in his life—the money was in the blades. If you get your razor into his hands cheaply, then you had his blade businesses. OK, I confess, it’s been decades since I used a razor of this kind, so I don’t recall how often you replaced the blade, but I pretty sure a shaving man in those days would go through a ton of blades.


Blood Glucose meters follow the same business model. A single test strip at retail commonly sells for $1 each. The strips will only work in the meter they are designed for. Those of us with diabetes should test anywhere between two and ten times per day, depending on our medications and type of diabetes.


The money is in the strips, not the meters. The way to get a diabetic to use your strips is to give them your meter. And there is a lot of money to be made, industry watchdog group CloseConcerns estimates the global test strip market is worth 8-9 billion dollars annually.


Now, there are lots, and lots, and lots of BGL meters out there. The entire inside of my office door is covered in a collage made of meters. Meters have an amazing range of features, styles, and colors. Which one is right for you?


The one your insurance will cover the strips for.


Yeah. Bummer. A few years ago your doc or diabetes educator could help you choose a meter that best meet your needs. Do you need it small and portable? Do you need a test strip port light for night testing? Do you need large numbers because your eye sight could be better? Do you need one that downloads to your computer? Or your doctor’s computer?


But increasingly over the last few years, insurance companies have removed choice. Most plans will only cover the strips for a specific make and model. Some plans will cover a brand, but let you choose a model.


My advice? Call your insurance company to see what’s covered before you fall in love with that sporty fire-engine red meter you saw on TV.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.