Here’s How to Pay Less for Blood Sugar Test Strips


Recent research from Ascensia shows that many people with diabetes are not being prescribed as many test strips as they need, and that many people also overestimate how much enough test strips would cost them. If you think blood sugar test strips are always expensive, you’re not alone! People tend to think that test strips will cost four times more than they actually can. Why is this? 

Some companies really do charge more than they should for test strips, so you may have experienced high costs in the past. And if you’re going through insurance, this can sometimes make test strips cost more, not less! Below, we tell you how to get test strips for less, but first—why do you need them at all?

What you’re testing when you test your blood sugar

When your body does not make or properly use insulin—the hormone that processes food into fuel for your body—the glucose from food builds up in your bloodstream. Higher blood sugar means you do not have enough insulin pulling glucose out of your bloodstream to create fuel for your body. 

That’s why it’s so important to check your blood sugar—so you know if and how much more (or less) medication you need to give your body the proper fuel it requires to function and feel good. For people with type 1 diabetes, this impacts how much insulin you need to take. For people with other types of diabetes, it can impact a variety of medication doses, like metformin or insulin. 

Key is knowing what your blood sugar number is—blood sugar tests aren’t a judgement, but just a piece of data that lets you know how your body is doing. If your blood sugar stays too high for too long, you’ll likely feel sick and tired, and could be damaging your body over time. If it stays too low, you may feel confused and shaky, and if you have a severe low blood sugar, you could pass out or have a seizure.

Problems you may face getting test strips

Health insurance often has weird and limiting rules about how many test strips per day they will approve for a person, particularly for those living with type 2 diabetes. However, blood sugar numbers are data, and that data gives you vital information about how your body is doing. Every person with diabetes should be able to check their blood sugar as often as they need to. 

You may also find out that your health insurance no longer covers the brand of blood sugar meter and test strips you use. This is because of complicated negotiations health insurance companies, pharmacy benefit managers and manufacturers do every year. This means that you could go from paying a low copay every month for your strips, to all of a sudden having to pay way more for the same product. 

First step: DON’T pay that amount. Next step: see if you can use a co-pay card (options outlined below) to get your current test strips for cheaper, or consider switching to a subscription service model (options outlined below too!).

There’s a very good chance you can actually pay far less for blood sugar test strips by skipping insurance entirely!

How to get cheaper test strips

These days you can get blood glucose (BG) test strips for lower prices, often by skipping insurance and buying straight from your drug store or a subscription service, where a company sends you test strips every month, or by using a copay card provided by the company whose meter you currently use. 

You can get a full rundown of all the copay card and test strip subscription programs you can use here, but here’s a high level overview:

Copay Cards: While not subscription services, you may be eligible for cheaper meters and test strips—in many cases, whether you have private insurance or not—by using co-pay cards for 

Walmart’s brand ReliOn also has a meter and 50 test strips available for $15, with additional test strips available for $9 per 50 strips.

Subscription Services:

For each of the subscription services, no health insurance or doctor’s prescription is needed. Unless noted, you can adjust, pause, or cancel your subscription at any time. 

The no-frills one—or a super simple, very affordable blood sugar testing system, consider DiaThrive. With a 4.2 out of 5 customer rating on Amazon, you can set up a regular shipment of supplies or do a one-time purchase as needed. 

The $$$:

    • $10 for a one-time meter purchase. A lancing device and case are supplied for free.
    • $8 per 50 test strips; you choose how many you would like delivered once, every month, every three months, or every six months. Lancets are supplied for free.

The familiar one—chances are, you may already be using an Accu-Chek blood sugar meter; it’s often the brand given at your doctor’s office, or that you can pick up from the drug store. With their subscription service, you can likely get test strips for less than their purchase price at the pharmacy. With a 4.4 out of 5 customer rating on Amazon, people really like how reliable and accurate Accu-Chek meters are. 

The $$$:

    • The Accu-Chek Guide SimplePay program comes with a free Accu-Chek Guide Me meter or you can upgrade to the Guide Meter—which offers more data at your finger-tips for $15.
    • You can select 50 strips a month for $20, 100 strips for $30, or 300 strips for $70

The easy to use but high-tech one, with a coaching option—if you like being connected to your other health apps and want to see your numbers on your Apple Watch, consider One Drop. With a 4.1 out of 5 customer rating on Amazon, you can choose between a basic meter and strip kit, or bump up to the personalized one-on-one coaching package, where you can message your coach right from the One Drop app, available on iPhone and Android, where all your blood sugar data is uploaded via bluetooth, and get responses within minutes.

The $$$: 

    • $21-41 per month for meter + kit, plus 50-100 test strips
    • $80 per month for meter + kit, plus unlimited test strips
    • $90 per month for the above, plus one-on-one personalized coaching via app

The one that plugs into your phone, with a coaching option—if you like having all of your data on your smartphone and would benefit from monthly check-ins with a healthcare provider in between your regular appointments, consider Dario. With a 4.4 out of 5 customer rating on Amazon, you can choose from a Basic, Pro, or Premium subscription option, with the latter giving you monthly appointments with a certified diabetes care and education specialist (CDCES). If you don’t like subscriptions, you can also do one-time purchases of any of the testing supplies as needed.

The $$$:

    • $30 per month for meter, 100 lancets, unlimited test strips
    • $40 per month for for the above plus one-on-one personalized coaching via app
    • $85 per month for the above plus monthly appointments with a CDCES

The one-on-one coaching one—If you’re at a point with your diabetes where you need a little extra help, either emotionally managing the disease or troubleshooting numbers, consider the mySugr Bundle. Using an Accu-Chek meter system, mySugr is an app-based coaching program that comes with an automatic blood sugar meter subscription program. With a 4.6 out of 5 app rating, the mySugr app synchronizes to your meter and automatically sees when you need more strips, delivering them without any extra thought on your part. 

The $$$:

    • $49 per month for access to mySugr app Pro, in-app access to a diabetes coach, an Accu-Chek meter, unlimited test strips, a lancing device and lancets
    • Please Note! A three-month commitment is required 

The one that only comes through your insurance or employerLivongo is a free system that includes a blood glucose meter, unlimited test strips and personal diabetes coaching. In order to sign up for Livongo, you must have type 1 or type 2 diabetes, and you must be eligible through your employer or health plan.

If you don’t have insurance and need help getting your other supplies and medications for a lower cost, check out our resource on managing diabetes without health insurance

People who take insulin require consistently affordable and predictable sources of insulin at all times. If you or a loved one are struggling to afford or access insulin, click here.

This content mentions Abbott, ADCES, Livongo, One Drop and Roche, active partners of Beyond Type 1.
News coverage by the Beyond Type 1 team is operated independently from any content partnerships. Beyond Type 1 maintains full editorial control of all content published on our platforms.

WRITTEN BY Beyond Type 1 Editorial Team, POSTED 06/10/21, UPDATED 12/03/22

This piece was authored collaboratively by the Beyond Type 1 Editorial Team.