Tuesday, 18 October 2011

The cost of Diabetes in Ireland

People with diabetes are very fortunate when it comes to the cost of living with diabetes in Ireland.

Under the Long Term Illness Scheme, diabetes medications and supplies, such as test strips, needles, insulin, etc., are free to all people with diabetes. This scheme was set up in 1971, specifically to help people with diabetes manage the astronomical cost of medicine and subsequently covers another 14 illnesses.

The cost of a box of 50 test strips for my One Touch Ultra Glucose meter is $61 (€46). I use approximately 7 strips per day which means that it I were to buy a one month supply it would cost me €188 (ouch!!!). That’s just for the test strips for my glucose meter! I’m not going to give anyone a heart attack by telling you what my insulin, needles and the glucagon kit would cost! Believe me you don’t want to know!

I’m just thankful that this fortune doesn’t come directly out of my pocket because I could not afford it. I know that my taxes goes towards this cost but I don’t think I pay enough taxes to cover all the free things that most of us get but that’s not an offer to pay more!!!

We are not the only country who provides people with diabetes this benefit. I came across a discussion thread on  about how many glucose meter test strips GP’s in the UK allow their patients.

The National Health Service (NHS) in the UK, does provide test strips for free to people with diabetes but because of cost cutting measures some GP’s are placing restrictions on how many test strips a person with diabetes can get, regardless of using insulin or not. Some GP’s feel that 4 test strips per day is sufficient but if you are a person with type 1 diabetes (like me) on an insulin pump the pump manufacturers insist you test 6-8 times a day. Plus, if you are an active person or you drive a lot this is just not safe or practical.

I would hate for someone to tell me that I’m not allowed to test my blood sugar levels as many times as I feel necessary. After all, I’m not doing it for fun – it’s not fun at all, believe me!!

I use the information from my blood sugar readings to correct high & low blood glucose levels, to calculate my insulin to carbohydrate ratio for meals and food types. I thing that my having a decent HbA1c is because I can test as many times as I do.

I really am very fortunate to have this scheme and I will never forget it.


  1. Hi im diagnosed with type 1 diabetes mellitus for about six months ago . Its all good im but the only problem is I went in today to get more test strips , and the pharmacy woman essentially told me you get two boxes in the month and no more. All along they had no problem giving me more boxes when i needed them. i assumed this was a first warning or something and she had put some in the bag with the needles but when i went home i realised she hadnt, if i hadnt put some strips away for a rainy day/emergency id be screwed today. My question is this, does my long term illness book cover as many strips in d month as i need or has the rules changed. I like you use atleast seven strips a day.

  2. Hi there, there should be no limit to how many test strips you are allowed on the LTI but I would not be an expert. I would love if you would contact Diabetes Ireland and report the problem to them just so it's on record. Their email is info@diabetes.ie

    I imagine that the pharmacy lady has just misunderstood something and Diabetes Ireland would be able to advise you on how to handle it.