If you have diabetes, you’re probably no stranger to checking your own blood sugar with a little portable device known as a glucose meter. For those of you who don’t—to get a blood sugar reading, glucose meters require a small amount of blood to be placed on a test strip, and you need a new test strip every time.
Depending on your situation, your doctor might suggest checking your blood sugar multiple times per day with meals. Some of you may check your blood sugar upwards of 6 times a day. On the other hand, if you’re a newly diagnosed diabetic your doctor may not require you to check your blood sugar right away—though eventually you may need to test a few times per week.
No matter how often you check your blood sugar, the cost of test strips can add up quickly. Popular test strips can cost as much as (and sometimes more than) $1.50 each. That’s pretty steep if you’re testing a few times a day—almost $50 per month if you use one a day.
Especially if you need to test more often, you should be aware that there are a few meter systems that offer something like a subscription service. These companies offer unlimited test strips for a flat monthly fee.
There are several companies out there that offer unlimited test strips—here are just a few:
What is it? The Livongo program is available to individuals, their spouses, and dependents who are part of an organization that partners with Livongo. To register you must have type 1 or type 2 diabetes, have coverage, and a registration code. If you don’t have a registration code you are able to fill out a “Contact Us” form to learn more about their program.
How much does it cost? Livongo is free if you qualify through your employer, insurance, or other coverage. They don’t specify a certain quantity that you’ll receive at one time, but since the app monitors your use, they will ship you more supplies before you run out.
What features does it offer? You can get unlimited test strips and lancets delivered to your door. The Livongo mobile app also automatically uploads your blood sugar readings, and gives you access to view them online. It provides real-time tips based on your reading, and can notify someone you choose if your readings are outside your target range. You can also add info about what you’ve eaten to get a better understanding of your readings.
What is it? One Drop is a diabetes management platform. It lets you log your daily activities and see the relationships that food, insulin, and activity have to your glucose levels. You can download the app for free on iOS or Android, and they offer a paid monthly subscription for supplies.
How much does it cost? The One Drop meter costs $79.95. This is a one-time cost, and it includes the meter, lancets, a lancing device, a case, and test strips. Then, they offer monthly ($39.95) or annual ($399.95) subscriptions for unlimited test strip delivery—they’ll calculate how many test strips you’re using, and send you the amount you need. If you’re sure you want to commit, the yearly subscription will save you $79 per year—about the cost of the meter kit. The advantage of month-to-month is that you can cancel at any time.
What features does it offer? Along with the meter kit and test strips, you’ll have 24/7 access to talk to a Certified Diabetes Educator. The app can be used to track your blood sugar, reorder supplies, and let your doctor see your progress if you choose, so they can offer even more support. The app will also let you know when you’re running low on test strips, and how many you have left. There’s no extra cost based on how many test strips you use.
What is it? Offered by Roche, the manufacturer of Accu-Chek, this program offers a free meter for first time users and lets you subscribe to delivery one to six month supplies of test strips. Each package also comes with food and other “favorite” items suggested by Roche.
How much does it cost? You can choose whether to receive one or two boxes of 50 test strips in each shipment. A single 50-count box costs $30, and two boxes is $50. You can save a bit if you order more at a time—you also get to choose whether to receive your shipment will be delivered every one, two, three, or six months.
What features does it offer? In addition to test strips, you’ll get free “discovery” items that include snacks and skincare items, and free shipping. If it’s your first time using Accu-Chek, you’ll also get to choose a free meter. Billing is automatic, which can be an upside for convenience, but it’s something to be aware of if you just want to try the program out for a month or two.
What is it? Good Glucos is a customizable test strip subscription program. It comes with a meter, but doesn’t have an app like some other programs. One unique feature: Good Glucos gives away a 12-month subscription to someone in need for every 12 subscribers.
How much does it cost? Subscriptions start at 100 test strips per month for $35. However, you can customize your subscription by telling them how ofter you’re testing, and by setting your shipping frequency—but be aware that more strips will add to your cost. Shipping and your meter are free.
What features does it offer? Shipping is free, and your first package will come with 10 lancets as well as a free meter. Unlike some other services, they do not have an app to help you log and track your blood sugar, but if that isn’t important to you, this is one of the lower cost options. There’s no contract, so you can try the program for as long or as short as you’d like.
What is it? Like One Drop, Dario is a diabetes management platform. They offer an app in addition to the test strip subscription that can track your blood glucose, meals, and excercise, and offer insights, alerts, and reminders. The app is free, but it’s available for iOS only—there’s no Android option yet. If that works for you, the Dario meter plugs directly in to your phone for an easy connection with the app.
How much does it cost? The Dario smart meter costs $69.99, and comes with a disposable 25-test strip cartridge and lancing device. They do also offer lancets at $5.99 for 100. Test strip subscriptions are delivered every three months, and you can choose from quantities of 50 per month up to 300 strips per month. The cost starts at $49.50 for a three month supply, up to $225. You can also choose their “pay as you go” option instead of subscribing to get 50, 100, 200, or 300 test strips in a single shipment. 50 strips start at $20, up to 300 for $120.
What features does it offer? The meter connects directly to your phone through the headphone jack, and lets you use the app to read and track your blood glucose. You can also access all of your information through their web portal to make it easier to share with your doctor (or track yourself). Test strips come in 25-strip cartridges that you load into the meter for easy access.