Thursday, January 18, 2018

Diabetics get bit in the danglies.

I probably yakked about this once before and the post then quickly vanished into the black hole of Facebook irrelevance.

But, you know what is one of the great rackets of all time, other than college bookstores, computer printers, and razors?  Diabetic management items. As you know I am a member of Club D, the club that no one wants to join, but has a line out the door anyway.  And as any diabetic will tell you, it is not a cheap disease to deal with. Insulin costs are through the roof-- fortunately, for me, as a type 2 diabetic, that's not an  issue-- the changes in diet, exercise, and lifestyle aren't free, but the main part of diabetes management takes the cake.

I'm talking about meters and test strips.  You can go to CVS, Rite-Aid, Walgreen's, or any other drug store and depending on the sale, get a glucose meter for as little as ten bucks. A fairly sophisticated piece of electronics that costs practically nothing, due to the economics of scale.  No biggie.  But what does a glucose meter need in order to work? Hmmmm? I'll give you three guesses and the first two don't count. TEST STRIPS!!  And there is where diabetics get it in the danglies.  Test strips are not cheap. I was in a CVS one day checking out glucose meters and I saw a basic house brand meter for, like, $20.  Not a bad price, and then I saw a package of 200 test strips that will ONLY work with THAT meter for $40. Now, that's actually a pretty good deal for that many test strips.  I have a One Touch Verio iQ meter, I bought on sale for $20. I bought a package of 50 test strips for that meter that costs $30 on Amazon. Park Place math puts that at a $1.66 a strip. I test twice a day. Which puts it at $3.33 a day, which is the equivalent of a cup of coffee and a Danish. I could have bought the CVS meter and saved a bunch by getting the 200 pack of test strips, but I like the functionality of the Verio.

But the question remains. Why do test strips cost so much and why hasn't someone come up with a universal test strip and meter interface that allows any test strip to work with any meter? All a test strip does is collect your blood and allow the meter to read your blood glucose. The meter does all the work.  But depending on the sale and level of functionality, you can get a meter cheap and pay thru the nose for the strips.

The meter manufacturers use the same approach re: meters and test strips that the razor and printer manufacturers use: sell one part cheap and then gouge you on the other part that allows the first part to work. And while it allows those makers to reap a ton of money, it also causes diabetics to pay out the butt for a crucial part of managing their condition.  And with diabetes reaching epidemic levels in the US, you'd think that someone would have come up with a more reasonable way to allow all these diabetics to check themselves without spending a ton of money.  But I guess it's all part of the health care crisis in this country. Our bodies eventually break down and it costs more and more to fix them. But that's another thornier topic to be discussed by people who are a lot smarter than me who have a bunch of letters after their last name. #JustSayin

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