Does Medicare Cover Ketone Test Strips?

Medicare Benefits Solutions
Mar 18, 2021

Keeping track of your blood glucose levels is something that people facing diabetic conditions know all too well. When blood glucose levels are too high for extended periods of time or on a frequent basis, damage can occur in the nerves, blood vessels and organs of the body.

As part of the process of turning glucose into energy, the body makes ketones from fat stores. While ketones are not generally an issue for someone with healthy insulin production, people with diabetic conditions may not process ketones properly, leading to a buildup of this acid in the blood, ultimately leading to organ damage.

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What Are Ketone Test Strips?

Traditionally, blood sugar test strips have been used by diabetics to check glucose levels at various intervals throughout the day, but ketone test strips have become popular as well. Because the processing of carbohydrates can lead to the development of excess ketone production in diabetics who cannot properly break them down, ketone test strips are used to specifically measure the amount of ketone acid. Individuals who undertake a keto diet may also utilize ketone test strips to check ketone levels and make dietary adjustments as needed.

These strips work by exposing special paper to urine, and the paper will then change color depending on the level of ketones present in the specimen provided. Although urine testing is a common method for measuring ketones using these types of test strips, test strips that measure ketone levels in blood samples are also sometimes used. The test strips can be used at home and are available for purchase from many medical retailers online and in-store.

Medicare Coverage for Ketone Test Strips

While Medicare does provide for diabetic testing supplies on a limited basis through Medicare Part B, the program does not cover ketone test strips. This is partly because ketone measurements are not needed in order to ascertain blood glucose levels which are invaluable measurements for diabetics, but also because the strips may be considered a diet and lifestyle purchase. Medicare Part B does not offer coverage for services or products that are intended solely for weight loss or cosmetic enhancement.

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Does Medicare Advantage Cover Ketone Test Strips?

Medicare Advantage plans are required to provide the same minimum coverages as Original Medicare benefits, but they are not limited to just those offerings. This means that Medicare Advantage plans often provide more options and greater flexibility than Original Medicare benefits.

As such, a Medicare Advantage plan may provide either outright coverage for ketone test strips or possibly provide a discount on the purchase of ketone test strips from certain manufacturers or retailers.

You may also be able to receive reimbursement for the purchase of ketone test strips under certain Medicare Advantage provisions. Each plan is different, however, so you will want to discuss your needs and your benefit options with your plan provider to learn more.

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