How to get free blood glucose meter and ongoing support from manufacturer with insurance co-pay assistance. Completely free, no need to be enrolled in Medicare.
We have found a new source for obtaining a free blood glucose meter without having to buy anything, be on Medicare or give out sensitive information like your Social Security number.
Abbott Labs, one of the oldest and largest manufacturers of blood glucose meters for diabetics, has a new promotion called the FreeStyle Promise Program. When you sign-up for the program you receive a number of helpful tools, as well as a free blood glucose meter.
When it comes to the meter itself, you get to choose between two different models. One is called the FreeStyle Lite and the other is the FreeStyle Freedom Lite. What’s the difference? Not much. The FreeStyle Freedom Lite model is smaller and perhaps more convenient to carry around. The FreeStyle Lite model has a larger LCD screen, so it is a bit easier to read for diabetics with poor eyesight. Both meters use the same blood glucose test strips, which Abbott refers to as their ZipWikT line.
We’ve tested various FreeStyle meters in the past, and they have always measured up as one of the higher-quality brands. Blood glucose test results typically take about 5 seconds to complete. The test strips require only a minimal sample of blood and can be used on alternative test sites such as your palm, arm, leg, etc. One improvement Abbott has made with this newest line of blood glucose meters is the elimination of coding from set-up requirements. So, you won’t have to enter any codes in the meter and won’t have to worry about getting test strips with the wrong code on them. Each of the meters feature an LED backlight for testing in less than optimal light conditions as well. Those of you wishing to save test results to your computer can do so through a data port built-in to the meter. However, it requires a special cable, which is available separately from the company. One unique feature that we have not seen on other blood glucose monitors is the ability to add “skins”. These are basically just accessories that allow you to change the color or appearance of your meter. So, those of you who are fashion conscious about their diabetic testing supplies can opt for designs other than the standard boilerplate blue.
In order to join the program, you will have to fill-out an online form with a minimal amount of contact information and some simple questions about your diabetes. Name, address, phone number, e-mail, what type of diabetes you have, how long have you have used your current meter, what brand of meter you currently use, when you were diagnosed… are all questions on the short survey and contact form. You’ll also need to make-up a password in order to log-in to the company’s website. It takes about 2 minutes to complete the online form, and you should get an e-mail message with more information sent to you upon completion. Some of the health questions are optional, so feel free to skip them if you wish.
Joining the program gets you some other benefits as well. The free meter itself basically comes with a lifetime guarantee. The company will replace the meter free of charge if it ever breaks down and will send replacement batteries upon request. The test strips to be used with the meters also claim to have the lowest insurance co-pay in the industry at $15. This is said to be made possible through the company’s co-pay assistance program, which is another program benefit. The company doesn’t spell out exactly how the co-pay assistance program works, but they offer a toll-free number for program members to call that is staffed by “insurance consultants”. They also mail out regular statements, showing how much you have spent and/or saved with the program. In rather small print, the company claims that the $15 insurance co-pay is available on 8 out of 10 insurance plans, though I’m guessing that number is subject to change.
Lastly, you also receive toll-free access to “licensed Certified Diabetes Educators” by phone and access to a password-protected website that contains a number of useful articles on diabetes, general health, new products and other offers for free or discounted diabetes test supplies and other products for diabetics from Abbott Labs.
This is the part of the article where we typically answer the question, “What’s the catch”. Obviously, Abbott is in business to make money, and they certainly can’t do it by giving-away free meters. As with all blood glucose meter manufacturers we know of, the meters are useless without the test strips. There is only one company that makes test strips which are compatible with Abbott’s meters, and that is Abbott themselves. The test strips for these devices are not cheap. If you do not have health insurance, you can find inexpensive meters and much less expensive test strips from a wide variety of vendors. The difference in quality of these products is certainly open to debate, but we have seen few complaints about the less expensive brands. If you do have health insurance or Medicare, the price of test strips is usually not an issue, since most people only need to cover a co-pay amount. If you fall into this latter category, you might actually save money with the FreeStyle brand meters, rather than spending anything extra. That is not to say that you are getting something for nothing. Most people with health insurance are well aware that the cost of your co-pay doesn’t cover the real cost of the manufactured item. The additional costs are usually covered by increased health insurance premiums, which have seen huge increases over the past 1-2 years.
So, how do you sign-up for the program and get your free meter? The company’s website can be a bit difficult to navigate, but the easiest way is to go directly to https://www.myfreestyle.com/be-sure-to-check-out-our-ongoing-offers-and-promotions.html. That link should take you to the latest offers that the company has available.
Update 04/18/2011: Just to make sure that this offer really worked as advertised, we filled out the online form with our own name and address to request a free meter. It arrived in about a week via USPS. If anything, the meter looks even smaller in person than it does in pictures. In addition to the meter itself, we also received 10 free blood glucose test strips, 10 disposable lancets, an ultra-small lancing device and a handy, zippered carrying case. The meter basically works as advertised. It took approximately 3-4 seconds for the meter to complete blood testing, which is significantly faster than some of the cheaper brands. If you have to balance cost vs. speed though, none of the cheaper blood glucose meters we have tested took more than 10 seconds to produce a result. It’s up to you to decide whether the extra 5-6 seconds is worth the added cost of more expensive test strips.
The meter also came with a warranty registration card and an application for The FreeStyle Promise Program. I’m not sure whether it is actually necessary to return the card, since you enroll for the program online when you request the free meter. Obviously, the free meter also came with a lengthy instruction manual, which I have not bothered to read yet. IMHO, any meter that requires you to read a manual prior to using it is too complicated. Since most blood glucose monitors sold these days no longer require “coding”, most diabetics have come to expect that using them should be straightforward and simple. Obviously, you will need to refer to the manual if you want to know how some of the more advanced features work (memory, computer connection, etc.), but for the most part FreeStyle’s meters work the same as the other brands.
If you have good medical insurance and price (for test strips) is not a consideration, I’d have to say that this is one of the better blood glucose monitors on the market. Small size, no coding, accurate results, ability to test blood from places other than your fingertips, a lifetime warranty, small blood sample needed, backlit LCD, fast test results, a variety of “skins” available, data connectivity, memory averages, etc. It seems to have all of the bells and whistles that diabetics want in a blood glucose meter these days, and it doesn’t get much cheaper than FREE.
Questions associated with this article:
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Note: Neither the author nor freediabetestestsupplies.com were compensated for this article, nor do we have any relationship with Abbott Labs.