New Limits on Diabetes Test Strips

Tuesday, Nov 13, 2018

As of January 1st, 2019, Pacific Blue Cross will introduce new criteria for assessing eligibility for blood glucose test strips.

This change will align Pacific Blue Cross limits with those previously established by BC PharmaCare in 2015.

Based on best evidence, and in alignment with BC PharmaCare’s quantity limits, the annual limit of blood glucose test strips will now be determined by the diabetes treatment a Member is receiving. For patients managing diabetes with insulin, there will be no change to the number of blood glucose test strips allocated per year.

Annual Limit for Blood Glucose Test Strips, as of January 1, 2019:

Diabetes Treatment Category Number of BGTS* allowed within a calendar year

Patients managing diabetes with insulin

(no change)

Patients on medications with a high risk of causing hypoglycemia

Examples include: Chlorpropamide (DiabineseTM), Gliclazide (DiamicronTM), Glimepiride (AmarylTM), Glyburide (DiabetaTM), Repaglinide (GluconormTM), Tolbutamide (OrinaseTM)


Patients on medications with a low risk of causing hypoglycemia, or patients using blood glucose test strips without the addition of insulin or diabetic medications


*BGTS-blood glucose test strips

Important note:
In certain circumstances, periodic increases in testing may be warranted, resulting in a need for more blood glucose test strips than a Member’s annual limit allows. Members who meet specific criteria and are not on insulin can request an additional 100 test strips per year by having their prescriber complete a Pacific Blue Cross Additional Blood Glucose Test Strips request form on their behalf.

Why the change?
In the past, patients with diabetes were advised to monitor their blood sugar daily, regardless of whether they were taking insulin or not. However, research has shown that blood glucose test strips have a limited benefit for many patients who do not take insulin to treat their diabetes, and that most people with Type 2 diabetes who are not using insulin do not need to test their blood sugar as often as they do now. Research has shown that frequent self-monitoring of blood sugar for non-insulin Type 2 diabetes patients does not improve outcomes and may lead to decreased quality of life.

Members who are newly-diagnosed with diabetes should talk to a pharmacist, doctor or diabetes educator for advice on blood glucose monitoring. Those who take insulin should continue to follow guidelines for routine testing.

Additional information:
Many pharmacy locations included in the Pacific Blue Cross Preferred Pharmacy Network offer Certified Diabetes Educators who can provide advice on determining your appropriate blood glucose test strip needs. Learn more about our Preferred Pharmacy Network program and find a location near you, at:


We are here to answer any questions you may have; please contact us at 604-419-2000 on the Lower Mainland, or toll-free at 1 877 722-2583.