Fact Check

Government Eliminating Test Strip Subsidy for Diabetics?

The Australian government has limited test strip subsidies for some diabetics, but there's been no change to how the U.S. government is handling them.

Published Aug. 22, 2016

 (Pixabay Creative Commons)
Image Via Pixabay Creative Commons
The government is eliminating a subsidy that helps diabetics acquire blood glucose test strips.
What's True

The Australian government eliminated test strip subsidies for most Type 2 diabetics who are not insulin-dependent.

What's False

There have been no changes to the U.S. government's Medicare coverage for diabetics.

Diabetics need to stay constantly aware of the levels of glucose in their blood, and they typically do so by pricking themselves in the finger and testing a drop of blood using a glucose meter several times a day. Keeping blood sugar levels in normal ranges ensures that diabetics don't encounter many of the serious health complications associated with the disease.

It is therefore understandable that the prospect of losing access to test strips would cause alarm among diabetics, one that was set ringing when the Australian government eliminated a test strip subsidy for non-insulin dependent diabetics. However, despite rumors that have wafted across the Pacific Ocean, the United States government is not dropping any current coverage for diabetics who are Medicare subscribers.

Jack Cheevers, spokesperson for the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services told us that Medicare's coverage for diabetics has not changed. Medicaid benefits are administered by individual states, and in all states except Arkansas, Kentucky and Mississippi, test strips are covered by Medicaid and/or the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP). In Arkansas, children are covered through CHIP, but in Kentucky and Mississippi, children are not covered or are given limited coverage, respectively.

The Australian government, as of 1 July 2016, stopped subsidizing test strips for people who have Type 2, or adult-onset, diabetes and who are not on insulin. Australians who fall under that category have six months to adjust, and within that time span they can purchase a six-month supply of subsidized test strips. After that, they can get unlimited six-month extensions if a doctor deems it clinically necessary.

Other than for diabetics on Medicare and Medicaid coverage, the U.S. government does not offer a subsidy for diabetic test strips.


Hernandez, Vittorio. "Removal of Government Subsidy for Blood Sugar Test Strip Would Mean Type 2 Diabetics in Australia Would Pay $60/100 Strips From $1.20." International Business Times. 18 July 2016.

National Diabetes Service Scheme (Australia). "Important Changes to the NDSS."

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Basics About Diabetes."

Bethania Palma is a journalist from the Los Angeles area who has been working in the news industry since 2006.

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