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Cutting Out-of-Pocket Costs Improves Diabetes Self Management

August 14, 2017

A recent study in the Journal of Managed Care & Specialty Pharmacy found that lowering cost-sharing amounts improved home glucose monitoring in patients with diabetes who take insulin.

“Not much is known about the extent to which lower cost share for blood glucose strips is associated with persistent filling,” Andrea DeVries, PhD, vice president of translational research for affordability and quality at HealthCore Inc, and colleagues wrote in the study. “Out-of-pocket cost for testing strips, as an added financial burden for diabetic patients who are typically on multiple medications, has been shown to be an important contributor to missed opportunities for the continued, regular use of testing strips.”

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In order to determine the impact of cost sharing on utilization of blood glucose testing strips among patients with diabetes who use insulin, the researchers conducted a retrospective study of patient’s medical and pharmacy claims. The study population included diabetic patients who had at least one blood glucose testing strip fill between 2010 and 2012. The researchers divided the study cohort into two groups: a low-cost group of 3575 patients who paid less than 20% of test strip costs, and a high-cost group of 3580 patients who paid more than 20% of the cost. They then compared the likelihood of continued blood test strip fills between the two study groups.

Dr DeVries and colleagues found that patients in the low-cost group had higher rates if continued test strip utilization when compared with the high-cost group. Additionally, patients in the low-cost group had an increased likelihood of future blood strip utilization (P < .001).

“The findings suggested that cost sharing that falls below 20% of testing strip costs can facilitate persistent self-monitoring, particularly among those not achieving glycemic control,” Dr DeVries and colleagues concluded. “Based on this finding, payers and employer groups may consider including diabetes testing strips in lower cost-share tiers or communicating to members the preferred testing strips that are in the lower cost-share tiers.”

—David Costill

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