Having the right tools to check blood sugars levels can make a big difference in the experience. Most kids use the meter, test strips and lancing device that they were given at time of diagnoses. You might have better options for checking blood sugars.
The first step is to check your insurance formulary (pharmacy list) for the list of blood glucose meters and test strips that are covered by your insurance plan. Or determine if paying out of pocket is better.
Blood Glucose Meters
Accuracy – blood glucose meters have common standards that are set by the FDA. As of 2016, 95% of blood glucose meter values must be within 15% of the true value (a lab measurement); and 99% of meter values must be within 20% of the true value before the meter is approved by the FDA. There are independent sources that have reviewed meters for accuracy:
Calibration or No Code – older meters require calibration before the first use. The calibration fluid is included with the blood glucose monitor and is applied to the test strip. The meter “reads” the fluid and provides a number value. The meter’s handbook will inform you of the range of numbers that represent a calibrated meter. For newer meters, look for “no code” on the box of the meter. This means that no manual calibration is needed to begin using the meter.
Features to consider – most insurance plans offer 2 or more meters to choose from. Pick the right meter for your kid by considering the following:
- Blood glucose range. Most meters can start reading at 20 microliters and either read up to either 500 or 600.
- Ease of use
- Size of the meter and the display screen size
- Screen resolution – can you see the screen in daylight, dim lights and during night time checks
- Spoken results/instructions (great for little kids that are learning numbers)
- Testing speed
- Error codes
- Storage/memory of test results
- Ability to upload test results to the cloud
Cost – most Endo offices will provide you a meter (and a spare) and/or manufactures offer free meters (typically a coupon on their website) with a purchase/filled prescription of test strips. Many insurance companies do not cover the cost of the meter.
Cost – the cost of test strips varies per person (testing needs vary). It is worth the time to investigate if paying an insurance copay or if paying out of pocket is a better deal for your test strips. The desired meter/test strips may not be covered by your insurance plan and paying out of pocket could be cheaper than a copay.
Sample Size – the amount of blood required by the test strip for the meter to acquire a blood glucose reading. Test strips that require larger blood samples can cause difficulties (having to squeeze or milk the finger) which can lead to an increase in errors or wasted test strips if you cannot get a big enough blood drop.