Changes to Pharmacare Coverage - Blood Glucose Test Strips

Clinical studies continue to show that frequent blood-sugar testing for persons with Type II Diabetes is unnecessary and for those with Type I Diabetes (insulin-dependent), testing frequency should follow clinical guidelines. Effective June 15, 2017, the Manitoba government is making changes to Pharmacare and Employment and Income Assistance coverage for blood glucose test strips. The changes will more closely align with guidelines endorsed by Diabetes Canada.

The new coverage levels include:

  • 3650 test strips a year if a patient uses insulin;
  • 400 test strips a year if a patient uses an oral diabetes agent with higher risk of hypoglycemia;
  • 200 test strips a year if a patient uses oral diabetes agent with lower risk of hypoglycemia or manages diabetes with diet and exercise alone.

Patients will also be able to access additional test strips if medically necessary.

Frequently-Asked Questions

Why is this change being made?

Clinical studies continue to demonstrate that routine self-monitoring of blood glucose levels does not significantly improve the conditions of most patients with non-insulin treated, Type 2 diabetes.

Additionally, Diabetes Canada, a national organization that supports people living with diabetes through research, advocacy, education and services has developed clinical guidelines recommending blood glucose testing frequency based on the medication prescribed.

Manitoba is modifying coverage for blood glucose test strips to ensure benefits are aligned with best evidence and clinical guidelines so patient needs will continue to be met.

Manitobans expect a system that improves their health and provides quality care while remaining cost-effective. The changes will also ensure coverage is medically appropriate and financially efficient. It is estimated the changes will save $1.6 million each year.

What does this mean for me?

For the majority of people with diabetes, there will be no noticeable change in coverage.

Who sets out these guidelines?

Diabetes Canada has developed clinical guidelines that recommend best practices for the use of self-monitored blood glucose strips. Their guidelines set out the number of test strips based on the medication prescribed.

What if my doctor says I need more test strips than are covered under Pharmacare?

Patients will be able to access additional test strips if it is medically necessary. Patients may also purchase additional blood glucose test strips without Pharmacare reimbursement.

How can I find out how often I should be testing my blood glucose levels?

Diabetes Canada has a number of resources to help Manitobans better understand their blood glucose levels and how to monitor them. This includes an interactive tool that provides recommendations on how often you should test. Visit for more information.

This page is also available as a fact sheetPDF in PDF format.

Manitoba Health and Seniors Care
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