Anonymous Reader Murry Ferris writes in:

I am a 65 year old retired ad exec and also an insulin-dependent
diabetic.  I have other medical complications, but taking care of the
diabetes is the big one.

Every day I test my blood glucose
levels as many as ten times.  A box of test strips retails for between
$40-$60 and lasts less than a week…. you do the math.  In case you
were not aware, your glucose levels are in a state of constant flux
depending on your intake of food and exercise.   Bottom line, keep your
levels, "level" and you'll lead a more normal life.

Now with all the
talk about raising taxes to pay for the rising cost of health care I
hear absolutely no discussion about reining in the unjustified
increases of medical supplies and equipment.   Just ten years ago I
could buy test strips for $10.   Now they come in slick PVC canisters,
wrapped in four-color labels and packed in plush slick cardboard boxes
stuffed with layers of "instructions" and phony code strips.   Remember
all you need do is stick your finger an put a drop of blood on the end
of the strip.   How hard is that?

So, for $2,600 a year I get to
stick my finger ten times daily, throw a pile of unread and expensive
packaging in the trash, and pay increasingly higher health care

3 replies »

  1. Murry: Thank you for an honest question about the basics of health economics. Since you are over 65 doesn’t your Medicare pick up most of the costs of your testing supplies? If not it should.
    One of the reasons testing supplies are so expensive is that this Medicare coverage has placed a price floor on these supplies. The good news is that many diabetics who could not afford to test as frequently as they should, can now do this.
    The bad news is because of the price floor, those of us who are uninsured an must purchase these supplies out of our own pocket also pay the floor price. The floor price is higher than it might otherwise be in a more competitive market for testing strips.
    This is one of the many complex trade offs that occur on a daily basis in healthcare. Some are the result of third party payments and some are the result of monopoly status available to providers.
    This what makes “reforming” healthcare so frustrating. Think of it has hugging jello, you squeeze one place and it pops out in another.
    Lynn Bailey, Healthcare Economist

  2. Based on what you describe, you need a doctor; and the suppliers of these strips needs an investigation by the DOJ for price fixing.

  3. Yes, I totally agree, as a Type II diabetic the cost of strips seem to be way beyond the pale. Therefore this is a good example of runaway costs. I would like to know what the margins are on these strips?
    Anybody venture to guess?