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Diabetes supplies: What does Medicare cover?

Medicare is the U.S. health insurance for people age 65 and older and also for some younger individuals with certain disabilities. Medicare is made up of four parts:

  • Medicare Part A (hospital insurance)
  • Medicare Part B (medical insurance)
  • Medicare Part C (medicare advantage plans)
  • Medicare Part D (prescription drug coverage)

Diabetes supplies and education are covered under Medicare Part B.

Blood glucose self-testing supplies include blood glucose meters, blood glucose test strips, lancet devices, lancets and glucose control solution.

  • If you have diabetes and take insulin, Medicare covers 100 test strips and lancets every month.
  • If you have diabetes but don't take insulin, Medicare covers 100 test strips and lancets every three months.

However, if your doctor says it's "medically necessary," Medicare will cover additional test strips and lancets. For questions about diabetes supplies, contact Medicare at 800-MEDICARE (800-633-4227).

Tips for ensuring coverage:

  • Order your supplies from a pharmacy or medical equipment supplier who's enrolled in Medicare and accepts assignment.
  • Have a prescription from your doctor for your lancets and test strips every 12 months; ask your health care provider for refills of your supplies.
  • If you can't find a supplier or pharmacy in your area who's enrolled in Medicare and accepts assignment, try a mail order supplier who does. This could even save you money.

Medicare also covers things like insulin pumps, insulin, and therapeutic shoes or inserts if you meet certain conditions. In the next couple blogs, I will try to address Medicare's coverage specifications for therapeutic shoes and insulin pumps.

Note that many states have insurance plans that also cover specific diabetes supplies. And, if you're eligible, Medicaid covers diabetes supplies.

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