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Why Do People Buy Diabetic Test Strips

This week's 'Ask Evan' question comes from Vicki B. Vicki asks, "I've been noticing signs along the roads advertising that someone or a company is looking to buy diabetic test strips. What's that about?"

why do people buy diabetic test strips

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I too have seen a number of those signs in the area asking to purchase diabetic test strips. The sign includes a Baltimore area code. I gave the number a call. A woman who answered did answer a couple of questions. She told me she will pay for any unused boxes of diabetic test strips. How much she'll pay depends on the brand. Those boxes of strips are then sold to others at a discounted price. Perhaps to people who can't afford to pay regular price for the strips, or who are uninsured.

I was also able to find that in some cases people who are getting test strips for free or highly discounted using medicare, Medicaid or private insurance are reselling them to these kinds of companies. In some instances someone passes away and the family has unopened boxes of test strips to sell.

There are also a few legal considerations here too. Anyone can legally buy test strips. However, it is illegal for government-funded health care recipients to sell them if they were paid for by government funds. That means people getting the test strips from a program such as CHIP, Medicaid or Medicare cannot legally sell those test strips.

Chelsea Arnold was getting into debt over tiny pieces of plastic: diabetic test strips. When Arnold was first diagnosed with diabetes she needed to test her blood sugar 10 times a day. She went to Wal-Mart and found that one box, which contained only a five-day supply of test strips, was $80. Arnold called her parents and told them she didn't know what to do. She didn't have the money.

Arnold then did what a lot of people do when they need help: She searched on Google. She typed in the words "cheap test strips," and Craigslist came up. She bought eight boxes for less than $100. At Wal-Mart, she would have paid $640. Arnold said, "it was like having a life sentence and then realizing that there's a cure."

With this Google search, Arnold stumbled into an underground economy for diabetic supplies. It's a market that offers a lower-cost option for test strips, though it is hard for customers to know where the boxes come from. Some boxes may be repackaged and unsafe to use, and some boxes are sold by diabetics who are desperate for cash. But many of them come from people who have health insurance and have accumulated extra test strips.

At that point, Trey began researching. He said, "Obviously No. 1: Is it legal to be able to sell test strips?" Trey realized that it is legal, with a caveat. "It's kind of a gray market as long as you don't get them from Medicare and Medicaid," he said. Trey then found a local buyer on Craigslist.

It starts to look a little seedy here. He put the 20 boxes in a brown paper lunch bag. "When I went to sell the test strips we met in a McDonald's parking lot," Trey said. "I came out with the bag full of test strips, and he had his wallet full of money and it was like we were doing a geriatric drug deal in the McDonald's parking lot to get rid of some test trips."

As far as we can tell, his test strips went on to the next stop: a gray market middleman, something like a wholesaler, someone like Christa Kral. Along with her cousin, Kral purchases diabetic test strips from people like Trey. Their website is called

To advertise, Kral used to post fliers near the train station in her town. Now her ads are online. She thinks the company's unusual tagline has also brought in customers: "Two moms will buy your test strips."

Kral operates her business out of her dining room. She has a cardboard box with about 20 boxes of test strips inside. She might pay $50 a box. It depends on the brand, the condition of the box, and the expiration date for the test strips.

Arnold realizes that if manufacturers or insurance companies lowered the price of test strips, she could be put out of business. She's actually OK with that, because, she said, "the business exists to help people afford the test strips they need."

People with diabetes incur average medical expenditures of $16,752 per year. And there are many supplies needed to manage diabetes. Glucose monitors, insulin, needles, alcohol swabs, lancets, glucose tablets and diabetic test strips are just some of them. To get a big discount in diabetic test strips is a huge help in lowering expenses.

You can purchase blood glucose meters, test strips, lancets, and other diabetes supplies at your local pharmacy or at online pharmacies. But it's important to shop for bargains, just like you would for any other purchase. By looking for sales on diabetes products, you can find the best prices and save money. As an example, generic diabetes drugs can cut the cost of diabetes care. That's because retail prices for generics are generally lower than you'd pay for the name-brand products.

A glucose meter can vary in price depending on the features and brand you select. But you should be able to buy one for $40 to $60. Diabetes test strips can cost around $100 a month. Test strips are pricey, but you must have them to avoid problems. Checking only once or twice a day can save money on test strips. But first discuss less frequent sugar checks with your doctor or diabetes educator.

As you select a blood glucose meter, test strips, and other insulin supplies such as insulin syringes, keep in mind that there is no cure for diabetes at this time. You will need to have diabetes supplies every day, whether you are in town, away for the weekend, or traveling globally. You will have to make management of diabetes part of your daily lifestyle to stay well and avoid life-threatening diabetes complications.

Never freeze insulin or store it in a hot location. If you purchase insulin from a pharmacy, be sure to take it home soon after buying it to avoid extreme temperatures. Also, keep test strips dry, and don't expose them to moisture or extreme heat or cold or you may damage the integrity of the strip.

There are also roadside signs, such as some in Baltimore, that solicit cash for diabetic test strips, which are a lifeline for diabetics like 24-year-old Devin Jackson, who monitors her glucose level six to 10 times a day.

Despite that critical routine, people are selling their unused strips at storefronts in Baltimore and in other locations. The I-Team sent a WBAL employee there to see if he could sell some test strips, but the store was very specific about what it wanted, and it didn't want the type he had.

The I-Team also wanted to know if the resale practice was legal. It is for those who are buying the test strips; however, those who are selling them are breaking the law if they were paid for by Medicare or Medicaid, officials said.

As perhaps an added incentive to sell test strips, some of the companies buying them claim they will donate a portion of their proceeds to groups like the American Diabetes Association and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Fund, Weiner reported. She said one claimed it would donate to a humane society in Nebraska.

You might also be able to get a strip free meter. What this means is that you don't need to insert strips into the meter because they come pre-installed. Instead of replacing a strip each time you use the meter there is a rotation of test strips in the meter, this is called a cassette.

Most meters will only take one type of test strip. So, you should make sure you know which strip your meter uses before buying. This is also important to remember with your prescription for test strips. Your local area may only have a limited range of meters available to them and will only prescribe strips for the meters they give out.

If you have Type 2 and want to get test strips, you might not be able to get them on prescription. You will only be able to get test strips on prescription if your doctor or nurse wants you to self-monitor.

People diagnosed with diabetes spend more than $3,000 per year on supplies, according to 2018 estimates from the American Diabetes Association, and test strips are a crucial part of their daily routine. The thin slivers of paper are used with a glucose monitor several times a day to check blood sugar levels, so patients can determine how much insulin they need to inject to control their condition.

Test strips often come in packs of 50 or 100, and a pack can range from $50 to $200 if purchased without assistance from insurance. Georgia requires that patients have a prescription to purchase test strips from a medical supplier, but the resale of these strips is legal for both buyer and seller, as it is in many other states.

The head of, Wendy Carrier, as well as other corporations that buy and resell test strips in Georgia, were contacted but declined to comment for this story. However, their websites and advertisements on social media detail a how-to guide for people who want to make money on the supplies they have.

Manufacturers of test strips generally send their products directly to pharmacies, and they say they are able to certify quality and offer warranties only on products sold by these authorized distributors. Those products have been evaluated for proper handling, shelf life and authenticity.

Diabetic test strips have a fascinating amount of technology in them! Each strip includes enzymes that turn the blood into electrical current. Once converted to current, the current comes into contact with an electrical circuit in the strip and is able to be read by your meter.

Enzymes are a critical part of the proper functioning of test strips, and the amount of enzymes included in test strips can vary from batch to batch. For this reason, manufacturers assign a code to each batch of strips, and the code calibrates your meter to give the correct reading for the amount of enzymes in your strips.

Their website made it super easy to search and find the products i was looking for with good product descriptions and availability. The prices are extremely affordable and competitive. I will definitely be placing additional orders for more diabetic test strips soon. 041b061a72

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