The price of blood glucose meters isn’t the problem. But the price of test strips sure can be.
The last time I looked, some of the leading manufacturers were charging us almost $1 per test strip. For those of us who don’t have health insurance and test a lot, that can get expensive pretty quick.
But now one of the most aggressive manufacturers has introduced a meter that uses even less expensive test strips than its previous best. It also has better specs.
The company is US Diagnostics Inc. in New York, N.Y. They call their new meter the Infinity, which I assume they mean to refer to quality and not price.
You may be able to get the meter at no cost, because meter manufacturers mostly work on the “freebie marketing” model where they give away one of their products to generate a continual market for another, generally disposable, item. A guy named King Gillette pioneered this approach to get us to buy his razor blades.
Not Infinitely Expensive
Even if you can’t scour up a free Infinity meter, you could invest in one for the reasonable price of $9.95. A quick Web search found at least one on-line retailer, Hocks.com, that has it at that price. Or if you want to go all out, Hocks will gladly sell you the Infinity meter and a box of 50 test strips for $19.99.
But those aren’t the key prices. What counts is how much we have to spend for the box of 50 test strips we need after we’ve used those that come with a meter. Here, Hocks offers a box of 50 for $14.99. That’s just under 30 cent per strip.
And it’s an even better price than test strips for Maxima meter that US Diagnostics introduce last year, $16.99 per box of 50 or 34 cents each. I reviewed that meter here.
As long as I have been writing about the cost of test strips, US Diagnostics has been the price leader. Even Wal-Mart, the most aggressive mass market retailer in the U.S., charges $20 for a box of 50 ReliOn strips.
Price, of course, isn’t everything. We tend to appreciate not having to sacrifice all the blood in a finger when we test. The Infinity meter takes one of the smaller sample sizes, 0.5 microliters. And it will take only 5 seconds of our precious time.
Like more and more meters these days, the Infinity automatically codes the test strip to the meter. No more coding errors. This new meter does have a data port. This means that it will work with data management software. I’m not one to judge the accuracy and precision of blood glucose meters and test strips. I don’t have the tools to provide an accurate check. But when the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently approved the Infinity meter for sale in the U.S., it was on the basis of the US Diagnostics claim that it was substantially equivalent to LifeScan’s OneTouch Ultra meter.
The list price of 100 test strips for that LifeScan meter is $97.99. Amazon.com offers them for $62.22 or 62 cents each. That LifeScan meter may well have more features and greater accuracy, but test strips for the US Diagnostics Infinity meter are less than half as much.
David Mendosa is a journalist who learned in 1994 that he has type 2 diabetes, which he now writes about exclusively. He has written thousands of diabetes articles, two books about it, created one of the first diabetes websites, and publishes the monthly newsletter, “Diabetes Update.” His very low-carbohydrate diet, current A1C level of 5.3, and BMI of 19.8 keep his diabetes in remission without any drugs. He can be found on Twitter @davidmendosa and on Facebook at David Mendosa.