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UW Medical Foundation,Patient Resources,Social Work Services Quick Guide,Social Work Manual,Financial,Free or Low Cost Medical Services,Wisconsin

Diabetic and Other Medical Supplies

Diabetic and Other Medical Supplies - UW Medical Foundation, Patient Resources, Social Work Services Quick Guide, Social Work Manual, Financial, Free or Low Cost Medical Services, Wisconsin


Abbott Diabetes Care Patient Assistance Program

This program assists financially disadvantaged individuals who meet certain income criteria. Applications are available by calling (800) 222-6885 or visiting www.abbottpatientassistancefoundation.org. If you are able, get a Medicaid denial letter for your patient in advance.

IPump.org, Inc. www.ipump.org

Offers limited reimbursement for diabetes medications, supplies, and insulin to persons who qualify under their Emergency Request for Medical Assistance program. They also offer limited monthly financial assistance to qualifying persons to help cover the cost of insulin, diabetes medications and supplies. Persons may only receive financial assistance through one program and no more than once per year. Under their "REDS" program eligible persons may receive certain free diabetes and insulin pump supplies. Contact the Assistance Program Director, program-director@ipump.org for more information about programs currently funded.

Islets of Hope


Lists comprehensive assistance programs by state, as well as international resources for other countries. Includes private, corporate, and government programs.

BD Insulin Syringes Program


Physicians may order syringe and pen needle sample packs by fax or phone: 1-888-367-9539.

Diabetes supplies sales representatives

Many advocates working in clinics or other medical settings suggest contacting the sales representative for those companies that manufacture brand name monitoring and/or testing supplies.

Together RxAccess

This drug discount card is sponsored by major pharmaceutical companies. The card is free and offers a 25%-40%* discount on brand-name and generic prescription drugs as well as other prescription products, such as glucose test strips.

To qualify:

Discount medical supply companies/local retail stores

There are many companies advertising on the Internet. The cost of supplies can vary greatly, so you may want to ask local clinics or pharmacies for recommendations or how to select among companies. Discount chains also offer diabetic supplies that may be competitive with mail order firms. For example, Wal-Mart’s ReliOn brand meters and strips are made by a division of Abbott and their ReliOn brand Novolin N, R & 70/30 insulins are made by Novo-Nordisk.


Third-party or "generic glucose reagent strips" are test strips developed as a less expensive option than the strips that the manufacturer intended the meter to be used with. They are typically developed by copying the original strips. Although these strips may work on the meter listed on the package, they could look like strips used for other meters. Be sure the test strip you use is compatible with your glucose meter.

Sometimes manufacturers change their meters and their test strips. These changes are not always communicated to the third-party strip manufacturers. This can make third-party strips incompatible with your meter without your knowledge. Differences can involve the amount, type or concentration of the chemicals (called "reagents") on the test strip, or the actual size and shape of the strip itself. Meters are sensitive to these features of test strips and may not work well or consistently if they are not correct for a meter. If you are unsure whether or not a certain test strip will work with you meter, contact the manufacturer of your glucose meter.

Medicare and Diabetic Treatment

(from Medicare and American Diabetes Association websites)

For Medicare beneficiaries, Part D covers insulin-related supplies such as syringes, needles, alcohol swabs, and gauze. Medical supplies such as meters, test strips and lancets are covered by Part B.

All American citizens over age 65, the disabled, and individuals with end-stage renal disease who purchase Medicare Part B coverage and/or Medicare managed care policies are eligible for the following:

However, some limitations apply, including:

In order to receive coverage for blood glucose test strips and related supplies, a prescription must be written by a physician. This prescription must meet the following guidelines:

Insulin Pumps and Supplies for Use with a Pump

Medicare now covers insulin pumps, single and multiple use medical supplies for use with a pump, and insulin for insulin pump users. Medicare restricts coverage for insulin pumps and related supplies to enrollees who use insulin to manage their diabetes. Furthermore, Medicare limits use of pumps to those who have results on a medical test known as a c-peptide test that is within a certain range. Patients must obtain a prescription from their physician for the pump and its supplies and must also go through a diabetes education program in order for Medicare to cover the pump and its related supplies.

Diabetes Education and Medical Nutrition Therapy

Medicare now covers diabetes education services, also known as self-management training and medical nutrition therapy for enrollees with diabetes. Upon the diagnosis of diabetes, or one-time as an enrollee in the Medicare program, a Medicare enrollee is entitled to receive 10 hours of diabetes education. When prescribed by a physician and provided by an appropriately recognized healthcare provider or program, this education will usually occur in a group setting. After this initial training and when prescribed by a physician, a patient can receive up to 2 hours of additional training each year. A physician can also order medical nutrition therapy for a patient with diabetes. A physician can order up to 3 hours of medical nutrition therapy for a patient with diabetes in the first year of diagnosis and 2 hours a year in subsequent years.

Co-pays and Deductibles

Deductibles and co-pays for an enrollee's Medicare Part B policy will often apply to the described benefits. The deductibles generally require an enrollee to pay for the first $100 of care purchased in a calendar year. After reaching the deductible, a Medicare enrollee is typically required to pay 20% of all charges for items and services while Medicare pays the remaining 80%. Patients with Medigap, other forms of supplemental insurance including Medicaid or those enrolling in a Medicare HMO are generally not responsible for these deductibles and co-pays. Supplemental policies like these typically cover the usual Medicare Part B deductibles and co-pays within the parameters of the supplemental policy’s insurance program.

You can access Medicare or call (800) 638-6833 for more information about Medicare coverage.

Institutional Discounts

NeedyMeds has a program to assist non-profit or government agencies with free diabetic and over the counter medications. The products provided are new although some of packaging may be damaged. The provider of the supplies guarantees the products are in good condition and function as designed. The products are sent to clinics only.

To participate clinics must be a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, an educational institution, or run by a governmental agency; provide direct services and on site treatment to patients; and have a licensed healthcare provider (MD, DO, PA, RN, Nurse Practitioner, or pharmacist) available to receive and distribute the supplies. NeedyMeds will email the clinics when items are available. Each clinic will email its request for supplies. NeedyMeds will determine which items are sent to each clinics. The products will be directly from the donor's facility. See www.needymeds.com/supplyassistance/sapintro.html.

The 340B Drug Discount Program offers test strips for entities participating in the program. Only certain designated entities, such as Federally Qualified Health Centers, Health Care for the Homeless, et al. with pharmacy services are eligible for the 340B Drug Discount Program. For more information on the program, visit: http://www.hrsa.gov/opa/introduction.htm.

The Free Clinics of the Great Lakes Region offers a discounted bulk purchasing program for test strips, Volume Rx, for free clinics. For more information visit http://www.fcglr.org/home_frame.htm.

The National Association of Free Clinics offers discounted test strips for its members. For more information visit www.nafclinics.org.


For Medicare beneficiaries, Part D covers insulin-related supplies such as syringes, needles, alcohol swabs, and gauze. Medical supplies such as diabetes testing supplies including meters, test strips and lancets are covered by Part B. For a chart on diabetes related coverage visit: http://www.medicarerights.org/diabetescoveragechart.html


If an individual has a specific disease or chronic condition, it is always a good idea to check out the local chapter of the national non-profit organization representing that condition. Local chapters may have specific programs or funds available to assist with treatment, supplies, etc. The following national organizations either provide financial assistance to patients or have local chapters that may do so.

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These organizations may be able to put you in touch with local suppliers who might be willing to donate supplies.

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