How Much Does Medicare Pay For Diabetic Supplies
Medicare alone doesnt pay in full for most medical services, including diabetic supplies. Medicare Part B covers about 80% of the costs of a variety of supplies that are used to treat diabetes. Part B will typically cover these services and supplies up to 80%, leaving you responsible for the other 20% as well as any deductibles or copays. In order to help with the expenses, most people have a Medicare Supplement plan or a Medicare Advantage plan.
Its important to note that Medicare Supplement plans rangein coverage, and theyll all pay their portion as long as Medicare pays first. Thecost of your supplies may differ depending on which Medicare Supplement planyou choose.
If you have aMedicare Advantage plan, its your primary coverage instead of Medicare. Forinformation on what your Advantage plan covers, you should contact yourprovider directly.
Insulin Savings Through The Part D Senior Savings Model
Starting January 1, 2021, you may be able to get Medicare drug coverage that offers broad access to many types of insulin for no more than $35 for a month’s supply. You can get this savings on insulin if you join a Medicare drug plan or Medicare Advantage Plan with drug coverage that participates in the insulin savings model. This model lets you choose among drug plans that offer insulin at a predictable and affordable cost.
Find a plan that offers this savings on insulin in your state. You can also filter and compare participating plans to help you find the plan thats right for you. You can join during Open Enrollment .
|Note for people with Extra Help|
If you get fullExtra Help, your set copayment for insulin is lower than the $35 copayment for a month’s supply under the Senior Savings Model. If you get partial Extra Help, you may pay up to a $92 deductible and 15% coinsurance, which may be higher or lower than the $35 copayment under the model. Contact 1-800-MEDICARE if you need help checking the level of Extra Help you get.
Other Useful Information On Diabetic Supplies
- Generally, you pay 20% of Medicare-approved amounts for your supplies, and the Medicare Part B deductible applies.
- Make sure you refill your supplies in a timely manner, and only accept supplies you have requested. Medicare wont pay for supplies you didnt order for example, if a supplier automatically sends you items, you cannot get reimbursed by Medicare.
- You may rent or purchase certain diabetic supplies. For more information, call 1-800-MEDICARE . TTY users call 1-877-486-2048. Customer service representatives are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
- Ask if the supplier is a participating supplier in the Medicare program before you get durable medical equipment for diabetes. If the supplier is a participating supplier, he or she must accept assignment. If the supplier is enrolled in Medicare but isnt participating, he or she has the option to accept assignment or not. If a DME supplier doesnt accept Medicare assignment, there is no limit to what you can be charged. You also may have to pay the entire bill at the time you get the DME.
- All Medicare-enrolled pharmacies and suppliers must submit claims for diabetic testing supplies. You cant send in the claim yourself.
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Medicare Coverage For Insulin And Diabetic Insulin Pumps
Patients with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes that cannot be treated with diet, exercise or oral medication may have to have insulin injections. Insulin injections can be given via a syringe, a pre-filled injectable device called an insulin pen or by using an insulin pump.
Insulin pumps are a fairly new type of insulin delivery system. Type 1 diabetics who are no longer able to produce insulin at all in their pancreas usually use insulin pumps. The insulin pump is a computerized pump that is connected to a soft needle called a cannula that is permanently inserted under the skin. The pump includes an easy disconnection to the cannula so that the pump can be disconnected for showers and maintenance. The insulin pump then delivers the correct amount of insulin to the patient throughout the day. The patient is able to program the machine to deliver more insulin during meal times and less at night when they are sleeping. Insulin Pumps have been revolutionary for the treatment of severe diabetes. While the cannula is initially uncomfortable once the patient adapts to the sensation the discomfort goes away. The computerized system allows a diabetic to have greater freedom of mobility and negates the constant injections that are part of traditional insulin treatment.
What Diabetic Supplies Are Covered By Medicare
In order to have your supplies covered by Medicare, you musthave a prescription from your doctor, and receive the items over the counterfrom an authorized seller. The items must also be on Medicares approved list,otherwise they wont be covered.
Your local pharmacy is most likely an authorized seller, butits best to confirm with them that they accept Medicare before making yourpurchase. If you buy your supplieswithout a prescription, or from a seller thats not authorized, Medicare wontcover any of the costs.
Medicare Part B covers the following supplies, if they areprescribed by your doctor following their guidelines:
- Glucose test strips
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What Diabetic Supplies Does Medicare Cover
Medicare covers some of the costs of several diabetic supplies. But that coverage is split between Medicare Part B and Part D.
Medicare Advantage plans must cover whatever Part B covers and may include Part D prescription drug coverage. Premiums and cost-sharing in Medicare Advantage plans can vary.
Diabetes Medications and Supplies Medicare Plans May Cover
- Insulin Injections
- Medicare drug plans Part D prescription plans and Medicare Advantage plans incorporating Part D coverage cover injectable insulin that is not inhaled or used in an insulin infusion pump.
- Anti-Diabetic Drugs
- Medicare will cover antidiabetic drugs if they can control your blood sugar. These include thiazolidinediones such as Actos and Avandia, sulfonylureas such as Glipizide and metformin, among others.
- Basic Diabetes Supplies
- Your Medicare Part D prescription drug plan may cover supplies you need to inhale or inject insulin. These include alcohol swabs, gauze, inhaled insulin devices and syringes and needles.
- Insulin Pump
- Insulin pumps worn outside the body and the insulin they use may be covered by Part B if you meet certain criteria. Some pumps are covered as durable medical equipment. Your doctor must prescribe an insulin pump.
- Monitors, Test Strips and Lancets
- Medicare Part B covers self-testing equipment and supplies, including blood sugar monitors, testing strips, lancets and lancet devices and solutions for checking testing equipment and test strip accuracy.
How Much Does Insulin Cost
Insulin usage varies. People with Type 1 diabetes typically use more than those with Type 2 diabetes. GoodRx lists retail prices from $92 to $417 for a 10-ml vial, or higher, depending on the products features and delivery system.8 Most patients use two to three vials per month, while others use four. Also, those with Type 1 diabetes often require more than one type of insulin.
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Medicare And Insulin Coverage
Not all insulin and diabetic supplies are covered by Original Medicare. Much of it is covered under Part D prescription drug plans. Most Medicare Advantage plans include Part D coverage.
If you are enrolled in Original Medicare, you will have to pay 100 percent for insulin not used in an insulin pump. You will also have to pay all the costs of syringes and needles.
You will pay 20 percent of the Medicare-approved prices for insulin used in an insulin pump under Original Medicare.
Diabetes Supplies that Original Medicare Does Not Cover
- Alcohol swabs
- Insulin pens
- Syringes and needles
But if you are enrolled in Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage or a Medicare Advantage plan that incorporates Part D coverage, much of these costs may be covered.
As of 2020, people with diabetes who have Part D coverage may pay a maximum $35 copay for a months supply of insulin. But you have to select from certain sets of insulin Medicare has approved for the low copay.
What If I Cannot Afford My Insulin
Medicares Extra Help program pays for some out-of-pocket costs for prescription drugs. Social Security estimates this amounts to about $4,900 per year.9 It covers the monthly premiums, annual deductibles, and copays of the Part D plan in which you are enrolled. You must have limited resources and income and live in the 50 states or the District of Columbia. Contact Medicare for more information.10
A comprehensive publication is available from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services entitled Medicare Coverage of Diabetes Supplies, Services, & Preventive Programs.11
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The Medicare Part D Donut Hole
When Medicare Part D was implemented in 2006, it had a built-in coverage gap where drug plans did not pay toward medications. The gap was nicknamed the donut hole because plans offered coverage all around it.
The Affordable Care Act provided discounts from 2012 through 2019. In 2020 forward, drug plan members will pay 25% of the cost for any prescribed medication from the time they meet the Initial Deductible until they reach the out-of-pocket spending limit that leads to Catastrophic Coverage.
In summary, Medicare Part D prescription drug plans have four phases:7
The donut hole magnifies the importance of controlling your insulin costs. The added cost forces people to seek alternatives or cut back on dosages. But with the 2020 price discounts of 75% on purchases while in the donut hole, it is less likely you will find your particular insulin cheaper outside the Part D system.
How Medicare Beneficiaries With T1d Can Best Manage Diabetes Health Care Costs
It is impossible to provide a single answer to the question What is the best course for people with T1D who are covered under Medicare? The response depends on a number of factors, including whether you have complications associated with T1D or other health conditions that need treatment, your financial situation, whether you prefer to have higher fixed monthly premiums in return for lower cost sharing, and how much you care about having broad access to physicians and hospitals.
Some key questions to ask yourself are:
- Am I willing to change insulin delivery method for the sake of cost savings?
- What programs could I be eligible for that help with Medicare costs?
- Are my diabetes devices covered by Medicare and if so, are they covered under Part B or Part D? What are the costs associated with coverage under the different Parts?
What is clear is that coverage and costs for insulin vary markedly for people who use multiple daily injections versus those who use tubed pumps. The reason for this is that the very same vial of insulin is covered under Part D if a person uses it for injection or with a disposable patch pump , but covered under Part B if it is used in a tubed pump. This is because drugs delivered by a long lasting device are considered to be part of the durable medical equipment benefit and the cost sharing systems under Part B and Part D differ significantly.
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How Do Insulin Pumps Work
When you have diabetes, your body either doesnt produce insulin or doesnt properly produce it or use it to help keep your blood sugar at an expected level .
As a result, you may need extra insulin to maintain your blood sugar and prevent negative effects, such as nerve damage, that can result from blood sugar thats too high.
Insulin pumps deliver a continuous or sometimes bolus dose of insulin to help you better regulate your blood sugar levels. You wear the pump outside your body, and a portion of the pump transfers insulin from the pump to an insert in your subcutaneous of tissue. In this way, it delivers insulin into your body.
Tubed pumps have a small tube or tubes that extend from the insulin in the pump to deliver the insulin to you. Patch pumps dont have tubes, so that means fewer connections.
Currently only one patch pump, called the Omnipod, is on the market, though several companies are developing other versions. Some Medicare Part D plans cover the Omnipod.
Insulin pumps are a little different from a continuous glucose monitor .
You wear a continuous glucose monitor outside your body, too, but it doesnt necessarily deliver insulin for you. A continuous glucose monitor will tell you what your blood sugar is in real time, so you can know how much insulin you need or if your blood sugar is getting low.
Diabetes Services Covered By Medicare
Medicare covers a wide selection of services aimed at preventing and managing diabetes. Medicare Advantage plans are required to cover everything that Part B covers, but may offer more services.
These begin with your Welcome to Medicare preventive visit covered by Medicare Part B. The visit is a one-time review of your health that also provides education and services for all Medicare coverage.
You must schedule the visit in your first 12 months after enrolling in Medicare.
Its a good opportunity to talk with your doctor about the conditions you have and what services you need now that you have Medicare coverage.
Beyond that, Medicare also covers yearly wellness visits. These review and update your health prevention plans since your last visit. It will review your medical and family history, a list of your current doctors and prescription drugs and look at your risk factors.
Medicare also covers other services to prevent and treat diabetes.
Diabetes Services Medicare Covers
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Medicare Coverage For Diabetes Screenings
If you have Medicare and your doctor considers you at risk for diabetes, you may be eligible for up to two blood sugar screenings per year under Medicare Part B you dont pay anything for the screening itself if you use a Medicare-assigned provider at a Medicare-approved facility. However, you may have to pay 20% of the Medicare-approved amount for the visit to the doctors office.
Risk factors that may qualify you for a Medicare-covered diabetes screening include:
- High blood pressure
- High blood sugar levels when fasting
Patient Eligibility Requirements For Insulin Pumps
Before Medicare will pay for an Insulin pump and the insulin that goes into the pump, the pump must be prescribed by a Medicare-approved physician. People with Type 1 diabetes, Type 2 diabetes or insulin dependent Gestational diabetes can qualify for an Insulin pump under Medicare. Generally speaking only people that are not able to control the disease through diet, exercise and oral medication will receive Medicare coverage for an Insulin Pump.
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Diabetic Supplies: Therapeutic Shoes And Inserts
Medicare Part B coverage includes therapeutic shoes or inserts for diabetics who have certain conditions ask the doctor who treats your diabetes if you need them. To make sure these supplies are covered by Medicare, please note:
- A qualified doctor must prescribe the shoes or inserts.
- A qualified doctor must provide and fit you for the shoes or inserts.
- Medicare Part B covers one pair of custom-molded shoes or one pair of depth-inlay shoes per calendar year.
- Medicare also covers two additional pairs of inserts each calendar year for custom-molded shoes and three pairs of inserts each calendar year for depth-inlay shoes.
- In certain cases, shoe modifications may be substituted for inserts.
- The supplier must have an order on file signed and dated by the treating doctor if you switch to a different supplier, you may need to have your prescription transferred or get a new prescription from your doctor. Make sure your supplier is enrolled in Medicare.
Therapeutic Shoes And Inserts
Medicare Part B may also cover therapeutic shoes or inserts if you need them for your diabetes, but you have to meet certain conditions. You may qualify for one pair of depth-inlay shoes and three pairs of inserts per year.
If you cant wear depth-inlay shoes, Medicare may pay for one pair of custom-molded shoes and two pairs of inserts.
You have to meet certain conditions, including being diagnosed with diabetes, are in a comprehensive treatment plan and require the shoes and inserts.
You also must have at least one of these conditions:
- Diabetes-related nerve damage with signs of callus problems
- Foot deformity
- Partial or complete foot amputation
- Poor circulation
You will also need a podiatrist or other qualified health care professional to prescribe the shoes and to fit and provide them.
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Options For Coverage Under Medicare
When you are eligible to enroll in Medicare, you have two basic options.
The first option is to enroll in Original Medicare Parts A and B, which is managed by the federal government. Youll need to enroll in a Part D drug plan separately from your enrollment in Original Medicare since the Part D portion of the benefit is offered only through commercial insurers.
Depending on your income, your costs for Part D coverage may be significantly reduced. In order to receive this reduction, you have to apply for the extra help.Theres no downside for applying and you can re-apply every year since your income and the qualifying criteria change each year.
For 2021, some part D plans will offer $35 insulin copays. Called the Senior Savings Model, you will need to enroll in a plan that offers this in order to get these savings. For more information about these plans, see our blog post, Remember! Enroll in Medicare Part D plans that cap insulin costs at $35.
If you enroll in Original Medicare, you can also purchase a separate Medicare supplement or Medigap policy that can cover your deductibles and cost-sharing under Parts A and B in return for a fixed monthly premium. As explained below, the ability to purchase a Medigap policy could be critical for many people with T1D and the timing of when you purchase Medigap coverage is very important.
The authoritative place for evaluating available options for Medicare coverage is the Medicare Plan Finder.