People with diabetes need to monitor their blood sugar levels very carefully in order to prevent serious secondary health issues related to their diabetes. Ketones, which can appear in the blood or urine of a person who experiences elevated blood sugar levels over an extended length of time, can also indicate a need for clinical intervention.

What are Ketone Test Strips?

Though they may be manufactured by a variety of brands, there are two basic types of ketone test strips. The first type tests a drop of blood and functions much like a finger-prick test does for monitoring blood sugar. A drop of blood is placed on the strip, where it absorbs, and the strip is inserted into a monitor for a result.

With a urinalysis test strip, a person can either collect urine in an appropriate receptacle or hold the strip in the urine stream. The package of strips will include a color-coded chart to compare with the test strip which should reveal results immediately.

Test strips for urinalysis can come packaged in a vial or individually wrapped. Because ketone strips can expire around six months after opening, someone who does not need to test their ketone levels often may prefer individually wrapped strips will last longer. Though these strips are usually more expensive than those that are bulk-packaged, it reduces the risk of loss due to expiration.

Understanding Results from a Ketone Test Strip

Results from either type of test, blood or urinalysis, are usually considered according to three basic measures:

  • Negative ketones. This is considered an optimal result because it means that the blood sugar has been adequately controlled.
  • Trace ketones. This result can indicate slightly elevated blood sugar levels but does not require any action beyond the normal approach to managing blood sugar levels.
  • Large ketones. The presence of moderate or large ketones in the blood or urine is a sign that sugar levels have been elevated for a while. This result requires retesting and, if moderate-to-large ketones persist, you should contact your doctor for more guidance.

Medicare Coverage for Ketone Test Strips                     

Although test strips for blood sugar monitoring can be considered durable medical equipment under Medicare benefits with Part B, the same is not true for ketone test strips. Neither the blood nor urinalysis ketone test strips meet the definition of durable medical equipment according to the policies of Medicare Part B’s benefits.

Some Medicare Advantage plans offer their enrollees a monthly allowance that covers the cost of certain over-the-counter items, which may include ketone test strips and monitors. Extra benefits like these are determined by each carrier, and even so, may not be available with all the plans they carry. Recipients who want to reduce their out-of-pocket costs for these items may need to review each plan’s description of benefits and confirm if ketone test strips are included.

Related articles:

Does Medicare Cover Electric Scooters?(Opens in a new browser tab)

Coverage of Durable Medical Equipment(Opens in a new browser tab)