2015-08-26

The Cost Of Diabetes Supplies

A while back, I discovered the ReliOn brand of diabetes supplies. From what I can tell, this seems to be a brand that is exclusive to Wal-Mart; I've never seen these supplies sold anywhere else. The cost of these supplies is much, much lower than the other brands they compete against. Not only are they drastically lower than the brand name supplies, but they are also drastically lower than the generic supplies sold in other stores.

As for their quality, I can vouch for the glucometer and test strips, the lancing device, and the insulin pen needles.

The glucometer and test strips have accuracy that is near-identical to that of my OneTouch meter and test strips. That is to say, each test can be as much as 10% off or so, and consecutive tests may yield inconsistent results, but the problem is no worse with the ReliOn meter/strips than it is with the (much more expensive) OneTouch meter/strips. I use the Bayer Contour glucometer and strips, the same one they use in emergency rooms, and this thing is the most accurate meter I've ever had. ReliOn doesn't beat the quality of the Contour Next meter, but the Contour is much more expensive.

The lancing device, like all of them, is a spring-loaded pin; there's not a lot that can go wrong there. The first one I bought was spotty, but the next one has lasted. I recently purchased a spare generic lancing device from CVS, and to my surprise, it was identical to the ReliOn device, but for a different logo printed on the outside of the device.

But the best ReliOn product has to be the insulin pen needles, which are vastly superior to BD needles, although not quite as good as my personal favorites, the Novo-fine brand needles. The ReliOn needles come at a fraction of the cost, but for a single use, they never get blocked, they perfectly fit every insulin pen I've ever owned, and they are generally thinner-gauge than the BD needles, which means less pain per injection.

I often purchase ReliOn products for cash even though my insurance company reimburses me for prescription supplies, simply because the price of ReliOn products is less than or equal to my prescription co-pay. Again, that, without any loss in quality.

If you're in search of low-cost diabetes supplies, I highly recommend the ReliOn brand.

The other day, at CVS, I noticed a man shopping for his first glucose meter and test strips. The pharmacist was trying to talk him through the cost of supplies, and which meter would be "best" for his situation. When she stepped away from him for a moment, I told him that he didn't have to pay for a meter, that companies will usually send him a free one. My goal was to give him a good piece of advice, and hopefully let him know about ReliOn, just to save him some money since he was obviously paying cash. Unfortunately, he misunderstood me, and got the impression I was concerned that he didn't have enough money to pay. (Not so - I just wanted him to get the best deal possible.) So I never got the chance.

Fast-forward to today, when I saw an electronic sign outside a big-brand pharmacy stating, "We sell Medicare diabetes supplies!!" It struck me that this seems to suggest that Medicare won't reimburse for ReliOn brand supplies. (I'm conjecturing because I don't actually know. Can one of my readers please confirm?) This means that the government, the insurance companies, and patients are all paying too much for diabetes supplies.

If you're a betting man/woman, you might want to find out whether ReliOn is a publicly traded company. If so, I predict its stock value will increase as more patients discover what I've just written here. (Disclaimer: Please don't misconstrue this as qualified financial advice. Trade at your own risk.)