Friday, January 25, 2013


So several months ago MiniMed made the announcement that they had teamed with Bayer to produce their new Link meter. Prior to that, they were teamed with Life Scan/One Touch. I’ve only been insulin pumping for six years, but during that time I’ve always had a link meter. Prior to the Life Scan/One Touch partnership, there was a BD link meter.

My One Touch Ultra Link
I like the convenience of a Link meter for my pump. It may not save me much time, but it does save me some time. It remotely sends my blood sugars to my insulin pump, saving me from having to punch the number in myself. Another great thing is that when I download my pump data, the blood sugars are downloaded as well, meaning I don’t need to worry about downloading a meter as well.

This week, MiniMed sent me my Bayer Contour Next Link. I’ve been reluctant about it just because I LIKE my One Touch. In fact, I used a One Touch for years before I starting pumping and was really glad when MiniMed switched from BD to One Touch. The thought of changing meters again made me kind of twitchy.

But, as with any new meter, curiosity got to me. I opened it up and decided I’d at least try it. I linked it to my pump (you can have more than one meter linked to your pump, which I didn’t know). And I used it. And I liked it. A lot. It surprised me how much. I like a lot of different meters, but having this one made me want to keep using it. I thought about switching after my next refill of test strips, so I stopped by my pharmacy and had them run my insurance to see if I could get the strips. Turns out Bayer strips are “non-preferred” and that makes them not covered. Accu-Chek and One Touch are (which I already knew).

My Bayer Contour Next Link
Honestly, I don’t mind staying with One Touch, but what about people who didn’t have that option. They are just getting their insulin pumps and are automatically given the Bayer meter. They would have to give up that convenience option because of stupid insurance.

There is supposedly a program that Bayer has that offers a discount on strips if you have insurance (not Medicaid or Medicare). You only pay $15 per month for strips. I thought about doing this as well. I could use the new meter and it would actually be cheaper than my current co-pays because they are more (way more) than the $15 per month. BUT then I read the small print. The program is only through December 2013 (and there is the even smaller print that says Bayer can cancel the program at any time).

Would I get used to a new meter? Learn to love it? Be happy about it and then be forced to go back to One Touch because the Bayer strips still aren’t covered by my insurance?? Or is this some type of bridge program til they can get more insurance companies to cover it? I don’t know.

I know I have one friend that was forced to change to the Bayer strips cause insurance quit covering they One Touch. I know another than had no problems with her insurance ever covering the Bayer strips. I have good insurance. Really good insurance. So I don’t particularly want to rock the boat. I just wish that they looked at glucose strips as glucose strips. They all pretty much cost the same, so why do they care?!

Has anyone else had trouble getting these Bayer Contour strips covered? Does anyone know what the deal is with the strip program? Is it going to continue? What’s the purpose of it? I mean, if more insurance companies aren’t picking them up at the end of the year, they will lose customers. We don’t have money to pay for strips out of pocket if we don’t have to.

Anyway, another choice in the life of a person with diabetes. Which meter? Sigh. This is life. Sadly, I can’t go with the “fun” meter just because it’s fun. I’ve got to go with what the insurance will pay for.


StephenS said...

Yeah, kind of lousy, isn't it? My guess is that they know that the new meter's strips won't be covered for a while... but if they offer a discount until the end of the year, it'll maybe be long enough for insurance plans to cover it (especially since a lot of plans start a new plan year on January 1). Then they can get you to pay a bit more, while getting a little from your insurance provider too. Not that I'm skeptical or anything:)

I just got my Next Link meter yesterday. I'm interested in trying it out. Originally, I was thinking if it's good and I can't get the strips covered now, I may store it away until they are covered.

Scott E said...

Check that Bayer discount offer closely. I could be wrong, but if I recall it covers a very small number of strips per day. I'd suggest trying to convince your insurance company to cover it, and check with both your prescription coverage and your medical plan (under DME-Durable Medical Equipment). I found recently that I could get strips as DME with less out-of-pocket costs and no brand restrictions relative to the prescription plan. That said, until two years ago my infusion sets were cheaper as prescriptions than DME. There's no real consistency, but you might have more options than you know. Check them out. If you have quantity restrictions, maybe you could even dip into both. (And if you ever find out what's so "durable" about test strips, let me know!)

Scott K. Johnson said...

I would bet that you can, with your doctor's help, get your strips covered specifically because they work with your pump.

Lynnette said...

My insurance *wanted* me to use Bayer (not sure if a certain type), and the meter I use with my Animas pump is OneTouch. I didn't know pumps could use other-brand meters. Is that true always or just sometimes? In the end, my insurance allowed me the preferred coverage for my brand because it went with the pump I was already using... so, ditto Scott's comment.

Mollie Singer said...

I am so glad you wrote about this. I got the same notice in the mail and have been interested in it ever since. I'll be asking my doctor and insurance if the strips are covered next week and about the program, but what did you think about the light on the new Bayer vs. the One Touch?

Cara said...

@Mollie, I love the backlight. I actually like the Bayer better than I thought I would. but still don't use it because of strips. I'm going to talk to my doc in April about changing (to see if we can override the insurance).