What are the changes and why are they happening?
Until now, all Australians with diabetes have had unrestricted access to subsidised blood glucose test strips to monitor their blood glucose levels. This has meant that anyone, regardless of the type of diabetes they have, has been able to purchase test strips at a subsidised price under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) and the National Diabetes Services Scheme (NDSS).
However in 2015, following a review, the Federal Government announced there wasn’t enough evidence to prove that the self-monitoring of blood glucose levels improves blood glucose control, quality of life or long-term complications in those with type 2 who don’t use insulin. So from 1 July, people with type 2 who are not on insulin will have restricted access to test strips.
If you are registered with the NDSS (www.ndss.com.au or 1300 136 588), you can buy a six-month supply of subsidised test strips. The subsidised price is $16.20 for 100 strips (or less if you have a pension, health care or DVA card).
If you want to keep monitoring after this, you’ll have to pay the recommended retail price of about $50 per 100 strips. People who use insulin or who have gestational diabetes will still have unrestricted access to blood glucose test strips.
What if I’m not on insulin?
If your diabetes care team recommends that you need to continue monitoring your BGLs on a regular basis, they may be able to prescribe an additional six-month supply of subsidised strips, so speak to your GP or diabetes educator.
Reasons for extra monitoring include:
1. A change in your diabetes management.
2. Taking diabetes medications that can cause hypos (low blood glucose levels) such as sulphonylureas.
3. Taking other medications that may cause your blood glucose levels to rise, such as corticosteroids.
4. Another illness that may impact on your blood glucose levels.
TOP TIP: If you are not eligible for subsidised strips, shop around as prices vary between pharmacies.