I’m convinced. Most Americans are clueless about diabetes. Whether it’s ignorance or indifference (until they get diagnosed), they don’t understand the disease or the threats it poses to our health, our economy, or our future. Apparently the word “Epidemic” doesn’t seem to register.
I’ve written about this in the past. Diabetes is not “a little sugar problem”. Here are some stats from the American Diabetes Association for 2014:
29.1 Million (1 in 10)
– The number of Americans with Diabetes: 1 in 4 don’t even know they have it
86 Million (1 in 3)
– The number of Americans with Prediabetes: 9 in 10 don’t know they have it
– The risk of death for individuals with diabetes is 50% higher than those without the disease
– Total annual cost for treating diabetes, including missed work and wages
Complications caused by diabetes
– Blindness, Neuropathy, Kidney Failure, Heart Disease, Stroke, and more
1 in 3
– The number of Americans who will have diabetes by 2050
People with Diabetes (PWDs) also pay twice as much in medical costs than Americans without the disease.
I was contacted by a news station in North Carolina a few days ago (WSOC-TV). They were curious about signs that keep popping up throughout the state. Chances are, you’ve seen one of them. They usually say something like “SELL YOUR DIABETIC TEST STRIPS 4 CASH – CALL XXX-XXX-XXXX”
Apparently WSOC tried contacting a number of companies that sell test strips, hoping for an interview to find out more about this “grey market.” And apparently we were the only ones to respond and agree to an interview. While we don’t use signs, I’ve done a lot of research about reselling test strips and other diabetes supplies.
Following the interview, the station published the following article “Companies buy. Sell test strips.” And towards the bottom you’ll notice some quotes from Chad Langley. That would be me. And while I appreciate the exposure from a business perspective, I was extremely disappointed with the subject matter and how it was presented. To read the story, click here.
Instead of focusing on the disease, they were primarily interested in the legality and safety of reselling test strips. I want to be clear… this is VERY important. But it seemed a lackluster effort to exploit a niche that may actually be an illegal market. There have been many articles insinuating that what we do is considered a black market. I’ve written many blogs to answer these accusations.
I understand. Reselling something that was prescribed by a Doctor may seem shady. But test strips are not drugs. The FDA classifies them as Durable Medical Equipment (DME). The only reason they’re prescribed is because the disease is extremely difficult to manage without the help of a physician. What meter to use, how many times to test per day, how to live a healthy lifestyle, and keeping an eye out for the dire complications that diabetes causes.
I’m not upset that the station was interested in the legality and safety of reselling diabetic test strips. What annoys me is the presumption that we’re scamming people to make a profit. Well, that might be true with some companies, but not ours. I have many friends and family with the disease, and having the supplies to monitor is essential to managing diabetes. For those with Type 1 Diabetes, it’s a matter of life and death, every single day.
The article begins with someone explaining their astonishment at signs offering to buy test strips. “I don’t know how anybody could manage their diabetes without test strips.”
THAT’S THE POINT.
Not everyone can afford test strips, which can cost over $200 per box at retail pharmacies. So we provide an alternative market and we’re very, very cautious about the condition, expiration dates, and lot numbers. We’ve yet to have one complaint about the test strips we’ve resold.
Despite the Individual Mandate requiring all Americans to have Health Insurance (which is completely un-American), there are tons of citizens who still don’t have it. That’s why Obama and his administration extended the deadline for enrolling… again. We provide an affordable alternative for those individuals to buy their supplies. SO THEY CAN TEST AND PREVENT TERRIBLE HEALTH COMPLICATIONS.
And what about the people selling their strips? Well, they never brought this up in the article, but there are several reasons why people have extra test strips.
1. You’re doctor suggests you test up to 10 times a day. That’s optimal but not always possible. So when the next script comes in, you have some extra boxes leftover. Instead of throwing them away, you sell them to us, make a little money and help someone in need of affordable strips.
2. You get switched to a different brand. This is happening constantly under the new Obamacare regulations, as Doctors are switching their patients to cheaper alternatives. What people don’t know (and maybe WSOC should write about), is the fact that it’s the PATIENTS right to decide… not the Doctor. For info on this, refer to my blog on the Anti-Switching Rule and the Physician Authorization Process.
3. Gestational Diabetes. Women often develop diabetes during their pregnancy. When the baby is born, the diabetes usually goes away.
4. When people with diabetes pass away, their family decides to donate or sell their extra strips.
I’d like to add a 5th reason. Type 2 Diabetes is reversible. Literally. So there’s a huge incentive to change your lifestyle and reverse the disease. As a result, you’ll need to test less until you no longer need to test at all. In the meantime, those extra strips can be donated or sold.
The fact of the matter is pretty straightforward… Obamacare is NOT meeting the demand for diabetes testing supplies. This is due largely to the Competitive Bidding Program, which eliminated 90% of Medicare Suppliers. Here’s a flowchart I created to show the horrible impacts of this insane and ludicrously titled program (competitive my ass): Competitive Bidding Program Flow Chart
But the proof is right on the Internet. Look at the numbers on eBay or Amazon. Over the past 30 days there have been over 27,000 listings for test strips on eBay. And the Sell-through rate is over 82% for the top brands. Meaning that 82 of 100 listings get sold. That’s ridiculously high. The boxes that don’t sell are usually just priced ridiculously high. Otherwise it would be 100%.
How about Amazon? There are currently 1,258 products that fall under the category of “Blood Glucose Test Strips.” So yes, there’s plenty of demand on the market. Hence the need for the alternative market instead of throwing extra boxes away.
I’m still amazed that in a country obsessed with recycling, the media hasn’t taken the time to look into the positive aspect of our industry. Yes, there are risks in buying from the “grey market” as they call it. But as I said during the interview, there are ways to make sure you’re purchasing from a reliable source. Like us.
And by the way WSOC… We have an A+ Rating from the BBB… not an A (as you mentioned in your article). Just wanted to clarify that for you. Stop obsessing over the signs and start focusing on the lack of access to affordable supplies. Or the misleading advertising from government sanctioned suppliers. Or the amount of time Doctors have to spend with their patients. Or the increased medical costs. Or the patients being switched to crappy brands. Or the health complications… Should I continue? Maybe in my next