Study Shows Checking Bloodsugar Rather Pointless for Non-Insulin Dependent Type 2 Diabetics
As of 2011, my insurance covers only 4 test strips a day. For a Type 1 diabetic such as myself, this is a ridiculously low number. Like many insulin-dependent diabetics, frequent blood glucose monitoring is essential to my well-being and empowers me to make informed choices that greatly impact not only my day, but my life. I test when
Like so many of you, my bloodsugar level is always on my mind, whether in the fore or background. I never escape it. I wake up, I test post-prandial numbers at each meal, and often times pre-meal. If I exercise or experience unexplained highs or lows, I test to monitor the situation. If I’m driving, I test before driving to make sure I’m okay. I test before bed, and I test in the middle of night (if I’m with it enough to remember). Don’t get me started on pre-menstrual fluctuations and the need to test even more frequently during this time. So why, why, would an insurance company limit my test strips to four a day, even when my doctor writes a script for 10 times a day?
Simple. To save money. And because the vast majority of diabetics are Type 2, non-insulin dependent diabetics, and when many of them test, it does little good unless they’re testing causes a change in their awareness and behavior. As many of us know, only a small number learn how to test strategically and use those numbers to improve their diabetes management and self-care skills. Odds are good that if you’re reading this, you’re the exception.
A study found that for those not taking insulin, self monitoring of blood sugar only resulted in a .3% reduction in HbA1c over a six month period: For type 2 diabetics who are not on insulin, monitoring their blood sugar does little to control blood sugar levels over time and may not be worth the effort or expense, according to a new evidence review. Self-monitoring blood sugar levels for type 1 diabetics and type 2 diabetics who require insulin is recognized as a critical part of self-care. For these insulin taking diabetics, keeping track of blood sugar levels helps them attempt to keep glucose levels within an acceptable range. However, it has been unclear if self-monitoring of blood sugar has the same value for type 2 diabetics who are not on insulin.
To answer this question, Uriëll L. Malanda of the VU University Medical Center in Amsterdam and his colleagues reviewed 12 studies, of more than 3,000 non-insulin-using diabetics. The review showed that self-monitoring of blood sugar by these patients had only a modest effect on HbA1c, the standard for assessing blood glucose control. Over a six-month period, patients who tested their own blood glucose levels reduced HbA1c by about 0.3 percent. This effect nearly completely dissipated after 12 months.
Additionally, the review showed that blood sugar self-monitoring had no effect on patients’ satisfaction, general well being, or general health-related quality of life. One study, which compared the cost of the first year of monitoring blood for glucose versus urine testing, found that monitoring blood glucose was 12 times more expensive.
As David Edelman of Diabetes Daily points out, “If you ever wondered why insurance companies don't seem to want to provide cheap and plentiful test strips, this is it.” While those of us with insulin dependent and/or T1 diabetes may growl at such studies, it does make sense. Looks like the fight for more than four test strips a day wiwill continue for me for some time. I won’t give up. What do you think?