Low Cost Insulin Alternatives

Medicare Part B covers some diabetes supplies, including:

  • Blood sugar (glucose) test strips
  • Blood sugar testing monitors
  • Insulin
  • Lancet devices and lancets
  • Glucose control solutions  
  • Therapeutic shoes or inserts

Note:  You may need to use specific suppliers for some types of diabetic testing supplies.

If you’re diabetic then you know how expensive it can be. 

While Medicare provides testing supplies to monitor your blood glucose levels at no cost the drugs to treat diabetes are covered under Part D so there is a cost associated with these medications.   Insulin and the syringes to administer self-injections are very expensive and often times can contribute to you entering the “donut hole” which means these drugs get even more expensive.


If you find yourself unable to afford your insulin or syringes or if you do not have Medicare yet here are some tips on how to get what you need.

Blood Glucose Test Strips

If you don’t have insurance or Medicare, test strips are obscenely expensive and the cost seems to be getting worse every month. Still, used properly they can be the most powerful tool you have in the battle to avoid high blood sugar levels and the damage that can cause.

The ReliOn brand meters and strips sold at Walmart are much cheaper than the name brand strips. Currently you can get a box of 50 test strips for about $9.00. (http://relion.com/products/relion-prime-blood-glucose-test-strips-50-ct)

Type 2 Diabetes Drugs

With most pharmacies and supermarkets selling generic drugs for $4 per prescription, you can afford these effective diabetes drugs.

The most prescribed drug for people with Type 2 diabetes is Metformin. Plain Metformin and Metformin ER, the extended release form that is easier on the stomach, are both available as generics. Some generic brands appear to be stronger than others, so if you aren’t happy with the results you are getting with one brand, ask the pharmacist to try another, or if that isn’t a possibility, switch your prescription to another pharmacy that dispenses a different generic brand. The pharmacist will tell you which brand they dispense if you ask.


Analog insulins which most doctors prescribe are very expensive. The ones I see prescribed most often are Lantus, Levemir, Humalog, and Novolog. Fortunately there are other insulins that are much cheaper which you may be able to use instead. These cheap insulins are sold at Walmart under the ReliOn brand name.  Currently a vial of ReliOn Novolin is $24.88. (http://relion.com/products/?subcategory=insulin)

The pharmacy at Walmart also has a 100 count box of syringes for $12.58. (http://relion.com/products/relion-insulin-syringes-0330g-mis) as well as a 50 count box of Pen Needles for $9.00 (http://relion.com/products/relion-pen-needles-32g4mm)


CAUTION:  Always consult with your doctor before switching medications.

Ken Inchausti, director of media relations, communications and public affairs for Novo Nordisk, Inc., which is the maker of Novolog warns, “There are going to be some distinctions,” he says. “… You can have variations in terms of, one NPH is constructed this way, one NPH is constructed another way.”

Most doctors recommend any time you are switching medications in any situation, it requires delicate and close monitoring and care to make sure you will have a consistent outcome. Always consult with your doctor before switching medications.

The patient information sheet for Humulin states in bold capital letters: “Any change in insulin should be made cautiously and only under medical supervision. Changes in strength, manufacturer, type (e.g., regular, NPH, analog), species or method of manufacture may result in the need for a change in dosage.”  Likewise, printed on the Novolin box is the warning: “Any change in insulin should be made cautiously and only under medical supervision.”  The same warning appears on the website for ReliOn.

What if the cheap insulin is not for you?

If these cheaper insulins are not an option for you for whatever reason, ask your doctor to file the paperwork to get insulin via one of the hardship programs that help people who are insulin dependent. If he cannot or will not, call the largest regional hospital in your area and ask to speak to a social worker about how to sign up for one of these programs.

If you would like to talk to me or schedule a meeting at your home or a nearby meeting place, you can reach me at 207-370-0143 or go to the CONTACT page of this site to send an email message to me.  

Call me today and I will explain all your options and help you understand those options so you can get the coverage you need for the most affordable price.

Call me today at (207) 370-0143 or toll free at (866) 976-9038.