Does Medicare Cover Diabetic Test Strips
Diabetes is a chronic condition that affects many Americans each year, making it one of our nation’s leading causes of death. In fact, almost 4 million people in America have been diagnosed with type 2 (adult onset) diabetes and nearly 25 percent more men than women over the age of 20 have been diagnosed with this disease.
In addition to being an illness that can be life threatening if left untreated, diabetes also requires daily care by you or your health care provider. For example, diabetics must check their blood sugar levels several times each day, often using fast testing kits called glucometers. Because these tests require multiple finger pricks from the fingers or toes, many patients find themselves opting out of regular monitoring altogether. This makes the use of home test strips so popular among people who have diabetes because these devices perform quick, discreet testing at home. And, since most insurance plans cover certain diabetic supplies, there may even be no cost barrier to getting tested on a regular basis.
The good news is that Medicare does cover some diabetic test strips and related supplies, so you don’t need to pay out of pocket for testing. But what exactly do Medicare covers? Read on to learn about which supplies Medicare will pay for when you’re dealing with diabetes.
Medicare Covers Blood Glucose Testing Equipment and Supplies
As we mentioned earlier, Medicare covers blood glucose test strips and some other supplies related to diabetic care. The first thing you should know before purchasing any new supplies is where to look for a coupon or discount code that might apply to them. You’ll probably want to shop around online before buying anything as prices vary widely based on the type of supply you buy. To get a better idea of the price range you could expect to pay for test strips, check out Health Savings Accounts’ comparison tool. With HSA accounts, you can save money and receive tax deductions every time you purchase medical supplies like diabetic test strips.
When searching for coupons, make sure you’re looking at official sources. Some companies try to sell “coupon codes” that really aren’t discounts at all but instead just links to products that charge higher prices elsewhere. Also, keep in mind that while test strip manufacturers provide free samples to doctors and pharmacists, pharmacies usually charge full price for retail customers. If possible, ask your doctor or pharmacist to order test strips for you through his or her office. Most physicians won’t mind helping you out because he or she gets reimbursed by your insurer anyway.
Before heading off to buy test strips, however, you’ll need to decide how frequently you should monitor your blood sugar level. Read on to find out how Medicare handles this issue.
Months After Your 65th Birthday
If you were diagnosed with diabetes within months after turning 65 years old, you may qualify for coverage under Medicare Part A. However, you must meet specific requirements to be eligible for this benefit. First, you must have had diabetes for six consecutive months prior to receiving your diagnosis. Second, you must have received your diagnosis between three and 12 months before you turned 66. Third, you must have filed your taxes during 2007. Finally, you must have paid into Medicare Parts A and/or B for five consecutive quarters starting January 1 of the calendar year following your diagnosis.
Months After Your 66th Birthday
For those who turned 66 after December 31, 2006, Medicare has changed its eligibility rules for covering the costs associated with diabetes. Instead of meeting strict deadlines, you only need to show that you’ve made two visits to a physician who specializes in treating diabetes during the past year. If you haven’t seen a specialist yet, contact your primary care physician for advice.
Medicare Doesn’t Pay for Insulin Therapy
Many people mistakenly believe that Medicare provides coverage for insulin therapy. While Medicare does cover some insulin therapies, including insulin used for hospitalization and outpatient treatment of end stage renal disease, Medicare doesn’t cover insulin given to treat high blood pressure or lipids. Before deciding to rely solely on Medicare to control your diabetes, make sure you understand which treatments are covered and which aren’t.
It’s important to note that Medicare pays for certain types of insulin therapy. It will typically reimburse you for the cost of giving yourself injections of short-acting human insulin once per day or the equivalent amount of long-acting insulin administered via injection pump. This means that if you choose to give yourself shots, Medicare will help you pay for needles, syringes, vials, refrigeration, and packaging materials. Similarly, Medicare will help you pay for the costs of insulin delivery systems such as Medtronic Freestyle, NovoLogix, MiniMed 670G, and Apidra. Lastly, Medicare will partially reimburse you for the cost of continuous subcutaneous insulin infusion (CSII).
Although Medicare does cover certain aspects of insulin therapy, you still may have to pay out of pocket for other expenses. Keep reading to find out which ones.
Insulin isn’t the only hormone used to regulate blood sugar levels. Another option is glucagon, which helps raise sugar levels when blood sugar drops too low. Glucagon is sometimes prescribed to patients suffering from severe hypoglycemia (a dangerously low blood sugar level), although it’s rarely needed.
Medicare Won’t Help You Pay for Dining Out
Even though you may enjoy dining out with friends or family, you shouldn’t count on Medicare picking up part of the bill. Although Medicare will cover meals eaten in a hospital cafeteria, it won’t cover food ordered outside of the facility. As a result, diners may have to foot the entire bill themselves.
Medicare May Not Pick Up All of Your Medical Costs
While Medicare does offer significant benefits to millions of Americans, it’s not necessarily enough to handle all of your medical needs. If you’re considering filing an application for Medicare, make sure you speak with your health care provider or accountant regarding which additional services you may need to add to your plan.
Also, keep track of all receipts and bills related to your particular situation. One common mistake people make is assuming that Medicare will cover 100 percent of their medical costs. Unfortunately, this isn’t always true. Make sure you read your policy carefully to determine which services Medicare covers and which ones it doesn’t.
Not everyone qualifies for Medicare. There are numerous reasons why someone may fall out of qualifying status, including having worked less than 5 credits (i.e., working for 10 years) in the last 60 months; collecting Social Security retirement income; owning a house; claiming dependents younger than 21 years old; or receiving unemployment compensation. To see if you qualify, visit Medicare’s website.
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