Before 2018, Medicare did not cover continuous glucose monitors (CGMs) that worked with smartphones to collect and share diabetes data. However, the Abbott FreeStyle Libre is now covered under Medicare plans.
The FreeStyle Libre is continuous glucose monitoring system that lasts for 14 days. It comes with a handheld reader and sensor that you wear on the back of your upper arm.
The sensor on your arm uses a thin filament that is inserted under your skin to measure your blood sugar levels every minute. You use the handheld reader to scan the sensor after it is inserted. This quick scan replaces all daily finger pricks.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced that they would be adjusting the coverage for CGM systems in January 2017.
CMS found that the Medicare CGM coverage was limiting the use of CGMs with smartphones. There was a review conducted and the policy was changed to also cover CGMs that work with smartphones. The change went into effect in June 2018.
Ways to save
If you are not enrolled in Medicare, most people with private insurance pay $75 or less a month on out-of-pocket costs for a FreeStyle Libre.
According to Abbott, the FreeStyle Libre is among the most commonly covered CGMs under private insurance.
Abbott and CMS continue to move forward to expand on what CGMs can do and also improve Medicare coverage for necessities such as a CGM that can report data to doctors and other healthcare team members automatically.