That was…actually easy for once.

If you’ve had diabetes for say, oh a week or so, then you’ve already come to terms with the fact that you will spend a lot of time on the phone arguing about things. These things will mostly revolve around insurance. They will include explaining why CGM sensors should not be considered durable medical goods because they are, by nature, disposable and should thus be covered at 100%. You will spend time explaining that the number of refills you will need for insulin is infinity, because Type 1 diabetes is forever and insulin = still alive tomorrow. You will tell someone at least 7,000 times that you have met your deductible and out of pocket for the year and that there is no way you’re paying 7k for a pump when yours is out of warranty. They will still not believe you.

You get pretty used to the hassle factor with diabetes. Which is why when I saw that all the Freestyle test strips I use with my Omnipod insulin pump meter (the Freestyle meter is built in to my pump controller) had been recalled, I simply sighed, and called the 1-800 number they had listed for the recall.

The woman on the other end was friendly and patient and read directly from a very straightforward script. She gathered some of my personal data, then asked for the lot number of my test strips. I read off the digits to her, and she asked how many strips I had.

“600.” I responded, which was completely true. I used to test 10 times a day, warranting me a monthly supply of 300 test strips. When I got my CGM, that number dropped dramatically, but the strip order never changed. I had stockpiled a bit, you might say. And now those would all be worthless. I doubted they’d replace that many.

“Ok,” she said, without missing a beat. “We will replace all 600 of those test strips. The new test strips will be there in two business days by close of business on the second day. We will also ship you a Freestyle Freedom meter. Your old test strips, although not approved for use with your OmniPod, can be used with the Freestyle Freedom meter we are shipping, so they will not go to waste.”

And on Tuesday, exactly two business days after I had called, there they were. 600 new test strips and a meter to use the old ones with. I was floored.

Test strips

Wow. If only everything with diabetes was this easy. (Hint: it’s not).

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Abbott has always been really supportive – they were the first to have the pay-no-more-than $15/month discount card for strips, and have been really good about replacement meters – they even send you replacement batteries!! I’m currently using up a free Bayer Contour USB meter and strips I got at TCOYD event (very sexy to just plug the meter into the PC to download data, it looks like an oversized USB thumbdrive and allows you add data when testing, like hours pre/post meal, exercise, insulin units …), but will return to the Freestyle shortly. Abbott really appreciates the business model that it’s the strip refills where they make a living.

Thanks for sharing, its so nice when a corporation does the right thing!

It’s nice to see there are still some companies who know how to do it right. Anytime I run into good customer service (because it seems rarer and rarer today) I tell someone in authority in the company about it–especially when it involves a person going out of their way to help me.

An especially helpful usher at the Seattle Convention Center deserved a commendation in his record, so I spent a little time hunting down someone in their administration building to tell them so. It is astonishing how good this makes everyone feel. They all said, “oh, you must mean ___________” and I told them that I’ve worked in customer service. And that’s what it looks like.

It never even occurred to me to argue that my CGM is disposable and should not be covered as DME. Does that work?

OMG I had an AWFUL experience with the exact same thing! I had 900 test strips because I just had a 3 month supply filled and they would only send me 400 test strips…period…and no offer to send me a meter to use the bum strips! I sent an email complaining because I was so angry and their only reply was to “please call our 24 hour product support line”. I have only used freestyle test strips for >10 years and I am still angry with them. Maybe I got a bad person on the phone but it was an awful experience!

Um Taylor – isn’t the obvious reply on the phone: “That’s okay, I’ll send in the 400 and use the rest then”.

That should on a proper recall trigger panic mode 🙂

Tim I think that is a great thing to do – so many people only say something when they’re complaining – it’s a great thing to let people know when they’ve done something right! I try to go out of my way to do that too.

Craig – it’s becoming more and more common – I’ve seen both Cigna and UHC cover this as a pharmacy benefit – just like test strips. Which is awesome and makes sense because they are disposible….

Yikes Taylor that sucks! Yeah maybe you did get a bad person – I can’t believe they wouldn’t cover your full order!

Lex, we have been over this before but if you have any further arguments now that you are on the hardware side and can help convince TRICARE that our pump is not DME so myself and other Type-1’s that have been diagnosed while on active duty don’t have to pay a 20% copay for our pods or site patches I would love to try and take it to congress again. I am totally frustrated that is is not considered a prosthetic as Dr E has always said it is. The VA is great about the Dexcom and fully covered but they only offer 1 pump under their contract so Tricare pics up the pump and charges all of t-1’s 20%.

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