How to save money on blood glucose test strips

We all know that testing your blood sugar accurately and regularly is the most important thing you can do to manage type 1 or type 2 diabetes,1 but health care costs for people with diabetes can add up quickly. 

Here are some ways to help lower your day-to-day costs and still get the quality care you need and deserve.

29 January 2024

The high cost of diabetes

Did you know that medical costs for people with diabetes are more than twice as high as for people without diabetes? In fact:

  • Approximately 29.7 million individuals, or roughly 8.9% of the U.S. population, has diagnosed diabetes.2
  • On average, annual health care expenditures are 2.6 times higher for people with diagnosed diabetes than those for people without diabetes.3

A survey conducted by Wakefield Research of 500 U.S. adults, ages 26-64, with diabetes and 500 U.S. adults, ages 26-64, without diabetes revealed: 4

  • 48% of surveyed adults living with diabetes have gone to extreme lengths to cover the cost of their diabetes management
    • 22% accrue credit card debt
    • 21% borrow money from family or friends
    • 19% take money out of a savings or retirement account
  • 69% of surveyed adults living with diabetes are concerned that they’ll need to work longer than they’d like in order to earn enough money to cover their healthcare costs, yet 62% are worried they may not physically be able to continue working due to their health issues

How to save on diabetes supplies

Given these challenges, what can you do if you find yourself tempted to cut back on your diabetes self-care? Here are 7 ideas that may help.

  • Don't try to save money by skipping necessary blood sugar checks. You may wind up with a few extra dollars per day in your pocket, but without that blood sugar data it can be hard for you and your doctor to make informed decisions about your health and diagnosis.1 As a result, your doctor might ask you to test even more in order to get you back on track– add a potential trip to the emergency room, lost days at work and/or long-term damage to your health, and you haven't come out ahead by skipping out on testing.
  • Find out if the manufacturers of any of the drugs you're taking offer patient assistance or discount programs. With Accu-Chek products, we offer ways to save on Accu-Chek products both online and in-store.  
    • The Accu-Chek Prescription Discount Program offers two simple ways to save at the pharmacy. Simply choose the option that works best for you– whether you’re just getting started with us, or returning for refills. Learn more.
    • GoodRx offers coupons and discounts for Accu-Chek products and more.  Compare pharmacy prices and get maximum savings on the products you need to manage your diabetes at
  • Get the maximum value from the blood sugar checks you perform. Your numbers don't mean anything unless you know how to interpret and act on the results. To maximize your value from testing, make sure to work through your blood sugar results with your health care team– they can help you make more personalized, informed decisions about your diabetes care plan moving forward. These personalized and informed decisions can help improve your blood sugar control overall, saving you money in the long run by helping to delay or prevent the effects of long-term complications.1 
  • Ask your doctor about ways to save on prescriptions—for diabetes and other medications. Ask about generic options or combination drugs, free samples or whether you can get a higher dose of your medicine and split the pills into the correct dose instead.5 Perhaps there are older, less expensive brands on the market that will work for you.
  • Seek out free education. Look into education or incentive programs offered by your insurance carrier or pharmacy. You could also try visiting a health fair or expo sponsored by the American Diabetes Association or local hospital to learn about the latest treatments, get freebies and rebates, and walk away feeling motivated.
  • Utilize the “needs vs. wants” matrix. Consider the importance of potential expenditures and decide where something should be on your priority list. Once you've mastered the matrix for cash flow, you can use it for time management, too. We’ve provided an example of one below.

    Try it out for yourself:
Needs vs. Wants Matrix
  • In the upper right corner, if you both love and need something (really love and really need), it's a no brainer if you can afford it. Moving clockwise, the lower right is less clear cut. You may love a skinny latte on the way to work, but you probably don't need it with a capital N. However, it's a pretty small expense, so you may be able to work it into the budget, at least some of the time.

    If you neither love it nor need it (as in the bottom left), you may want to think about why you're even considering buying it. Are you just craving something new? Feeling bored? Momentarily distracted? Step away from the register.

    Finally, the upper left — those things you need but don't really love. Toothpaste. Car repairs. And, of course, your diabetes test strips fall into this category. These are the things you know are coming, so it pays to shop around.
  • Purchase diabetes supplies online, directly from the manufacturer. Some manufacturers, such as Accu-Chek, have online stores from which you can purchase safe, cost-effective supplies. If you buy from a third-party website or marketplace, you should always ensure that you’re purchasing items with “Accu-Chek US” listed as the seller. As the sole manufacturer of Accu-Chek products, we are the only manufacturer who can guarantee that the products being sold online are new and safe for your use. 

How to buy blood glucose test strips online

As mentioned above, chasing online deals for test strips can be a hassle, and more often than not the end result isn’t worth the chase– there might be hidden fees or the product itself arrives and isn’t what you thought it was. When it comes to diabetes testing, though, results matter. Here are features to look at no matter where you buy to ensure you’re not falling for a scam.

  • Look for consistent pricing. Some online deals are specially priced to get you to buy at a low price for first-time purchasers, but the price will go back up after that first month of subscribing. It’s important to not chase online deals and to find a source that you can rely on to offer the same price month after month.
  • Don’t fall for expired strips. No gimmicks here. Expiration dates on test strips definitely serve a purpose. They help ensure that you are getting an accurate reading when you test because the chemistry in the strips break down over time. Some distributors sell discounted strips online because they are very close to the expiration date or maybe even have already reached their expiration date. Yikes. When you buy Accu-Chek test strips from a verified online retailer, you are guaranteed strips with at least a 6-month shelf life.
  • Buy from trusted sources. According to the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy, 95% of online pharmacies are illegal and unsafe with most acting in violation of US Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act regulations.6 They could be selling substandard or falsified products made to look like the real thing or using the storefront as a way to misuse your personal health and/or financial information. You can verify an online pharmacy here, or, you can buy directly from a manufacturer you can trust.

How to save on diabetes care with an FSA

Buying online isn’t the only way to save. If you have a Flexible Spending Account (FSA), you might already enjoy the savings on meters, lancing devices, test strips and accessories.

Health FSAs are employer-established benefit plans that allow you to pull dollars from your paycheck, pre-tax, to pay for health care costs, like deductibles, copayments, coinsurance, and some drugs. Depending on how much you contribute, it can actually save you money on out-of-pocket family care expenses every year and lower your taxes!7

If you don’t have an FSA yet, here’s everything you need to know about signing up, contributing to your account and spending your FSA dollars on healthcare expenses.

How to enroll in an FSA

The first step to saving on your health is finding out if you’re eligible. The good news is that about 63% of businesses offer a flexible spending account (FSA) for their employees 8, so there is a good chance that you have the option available to you– you might be eligible even if you don’t have health insurance.

Most providers let you sign up for an account at the beginning of the calendar year. All you need to do is submit some basic personal information, and you’re on your way to savings. Contact your employer for more detailed information on your company's FSA, including how to enroll.

How to contribute to your FSA

When you sign up for an FSA, you’ll determine how much to deduct from your paychecks. FSAs use pre-tax dollars, so you won’t have to pay taxes on however much you contribute to your account. Your employer can also contribute to your FSA, but they aren’t required to do so.7

Each year the IRS sets a limit for how much you’re allowed to contribute. In 2024, that amount is $3,200– which is about $450 dollars more than it was in 2020.9 If you maximize your contributions, that’s roughly $265 each month that you can set aside for healthcare expenses.

A couple warnings about your contributions

  • Once you decide how much to be taken out of each paycheck, there’s no way to change it. You can’t change the amount or cancel your contributions until the following year, so make sure you’re comfortable with the amount you’re contributing.

    One exception to this rule is if you experience a qualifying life event. If something big happens in your life, like marriage or the birth of a child, you’ll be able to adjust your contributions.
  • Your employer owns your FSA account. If you leave your job or are terminated, you can’t reclaim the money you set aside. If you’re planning on a career change in the upcoming year, be careful how much money you put into your FSA.

How to use an FSA

If you pay for an eligible expense out of pocket, you can reimburse yourself with your FSA. Save your receipt and submit it through your provider’s online portal. Money will be moved from your FSA back into your pocket.

Even simpler, your provider might offer an FSA card. FSA cards are basically debit cards that are tied to your account. When you go to pay for eligible services or products, you can pay for it directly with your card. No need to worry about reimbursement! Ask your employer or provider for specific details on reimbursement and use of funds.

What happens at the end of year

Unlike other savings accounts like 401(k)s and IRAs, the money you put in an FSA doesn’t roll over into the new year. That means that you’ll need to use all of the money that you’ve contributed this year or you’ll lose it, so try not to contribute more money than you’ll need to cover out-of-pocket health costs for the year.

There are a couple exceptions to this rule, but it is dependent upon your employer as to whether they can be applied to your account or not. For example, you might be granted an extra 2 1⁄2 months to use your FSA dollars from the previous year, or you might be able to roll over up to $640 in 2025.9 Check with your employer to see if they offer either exception.

Eligible expenses

Since your FSA dollars don’t roll over, you’ll want to spend them before you lose them. Thankfully, there are a number of eligible medical, dental and vision expenses for you to consider.

Your FSA can cover a range of expenses, from routine doctor’s visits to seasonal needs like allergy products or sunscreen.9 You can use it to pay for small expenses like bandages or larger expenses like new eyeglasses and home testing kits. Your spouse’s and child’s expenses are covered, too! If you’re interested in enrolling in a FSA, check with your employer for details on eligible expenses and claim procedures.

Here are just a few diabetes care items that can help you use your FSA dollars before they expire:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Monitoring Your Blood Sugar. Accessed January 24, 2024.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. National Diabetes Statistics Report website. Accessed January 24, 2024.

3 Emily D. Parker, Janice Lin, Troy Mahoney, Nwanneamaka Ume, Grace Yang, Robert A. Gabbay, Nuha A. ElSayed, Raveendhara R. Bannuru; Economic Costs of Diabetes in the U.S. in 2022. Diabetes Care 20 December 2023; 47 (1): 26–43. Accessed January 24, 2024.

4The Roche Diabetes Care Survey was conducted by Wakefield Research ( among 500 U.S. adults with diabetes, between April 11th and April 19th, 2017, using an email invitation and an online survey.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. How to Save Money on Diabetes Care. Accessed January 24, 2024.

Hertig JB, James SM, Hummel CJ, Rubin MJ. Evaluation of pharmacists' awareness of illegal online pharmacies and perceived impact on safe access to medicines. Med Access Point Care. 2021 Apr 18;5:23992026211005642. doi: 10.1177/23992026211005642. PMID: 36204508; PMCID: PMC9413741. Accessed January 24, 2024.

7 U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. Using a Flexible Spending Account (FSA). Accessed January 24, 2024.

8 Society for Human Resource Management. SHRM Releases 2022 Employee Benefits Survey. Accessed January 24, 2024.

9 US Internal Revenue Service. IRS: 2024 Flexible Spending Arrangement contribution limit rises by $150. Accessed January 24, 2024.