Diabetic Test Strips: FSA Eligibility
Under IRC 213(d)(1), "medical care includes amounts paid for the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease, or for the purpose of affecting any structure or function of the body." This includes medical equipment and devices.
What are diabetic test strips?
Individuals who suffer from type 1 diabetes (insulin-dependent diabetes) or type 2 diabetes (non-insulin dependent diabetes) are both prime candidates for regular blood glucose testing. Regularly examining these blood glucose (sugar) levels can be a helpful tool for some individuals with diabetes, while for others, it is a necessary part of their care regimen that must be checked in the event of exercise, food, medication and stress. Irregular blood glucose levels can lead to major health issues, including hypoglycemia, hyperglycemia, or diabetic ketoacidosis (Mayo Clinic).
Diabetic test strips are used in conjunction with blood glucose meters to measure glucose levels in the blood. When blood glucose testing first made the transition from the doctor's office to patients' homes in the 1980s, diabetic test strips measured glucose by utilizing an enzyme that converted blood placed on the test strip into a proportional amount of dye. The blood glucose meter would then measure glucose by shining a beam of light onto the test spot, and the amount of light absorbed by the dye would determine blood glucose levels.
These original home glucose tests were notoriously difficult and often inaccurate, but a major development in the 1990s dramatically improved the efficacy of these strips by incorporating electrochemistry. With this new technology, blood placed on a test strip will interact with an enzyme that will create an electrochemical signal when exposed to the bodily fluid. This conversion of glucose into an electrical current results in more accurate blood glucose monitor readings, and this design remains the world standard for diabetic test strips (British Journal of Biomedical Science).
How long do diabetic test strips last?
Diabetic test strips do have a limited shelf life, and the vast majority will have a "use by" date posted on the side of the package to inform users of how long they will remain effective. Typically, most diabetic test strips will last anywhere from 3 to 6 months after they are purchased, but it's ideal for users to make use of older test strips before opening a new package to ensure that they are getting the most accurate possible readings.