This article was updated on June 2, 2021.
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 a continuous glucose monitoring system that lasts for 10 to 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.
Continuous glucose monitors are covered under Medicare Part B as durable medical equipment (DME). Under Part B, you pay 20 percent of the Medicare-approved amount, and Medicare pays 80 percent. To qualify for coverage, you must:
- Have type 2 diabetes
- Already use a CGM
- Require blood glucose testing four or more times a day
- Require insulin (three or more injections per day)
- Have a treatment regimen that needs frequent adjustments
- Have a face-to-face visit with the doctor prescribing the CGM within six months before ordering a device
After approval, you must continue to meet with your doctor every six months and make sure that you meet the criteria and are keeping up with your treatment plan.
Ways to Save
According to Abbott, the FreeStyle Libre is among the most commonly covered CGMs under private insurance. Check the Freestyle Libre site for deals and free trials. For additional savings, use the Medicare Plus Card.
To find a Freestyle Libre, ask your doctor or visit Medicare’s DME supplier finder tool.
Under Medicare Advantage, continuous glucose monitors generally cost between $10 and $75 per month.
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.