Which CGM is More Affordable? – CGM Cost Comparison

When somebody is diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, one of the most important parts of their management plan is checking their blood glucose levels regularly. Previously, this was done so by the finger prick test, and this is still a very commonly used method due to its accuracy. 

Having to prick your finger regularly can be a very uncomfortable experience, and may not provide as much information as you need to accurately manage your diabetes. One of the best ways to get around this is by using a Continuous Glucose Monitoring (CGM) device. 

The added convenience, comfort, and data sufficiency of a CGM comes at a cost, though, and in most cases it’s quite significant. So, here is a cost comparison of the most commonly used CGMs here in the US.

Advantages of Using a CGM

Continuous Glucose Monitoring devices are extremely useful in diabetic management for many reasons. 

  • For starters, one of the best parts of a CGM is that you don’t have to regularly prick your finger to check your blood glucose levels. You might have to do it every once in a while for calibration, but even that is nothing compared to using only a blood glucose meter.
  • Another advantage of a CGM is that since it is a continuous monitor, you are more likely to pick up on any changes in your BGL levels. Having a CGM allows you to pick up on these faster and correct them rather than relying on your symptoms. This can also be very useful for nighttime episodes of low blood sugar when you’re sleeping.
  • Playing into the previous point, most CGMs have alarms that you can set so they will alert you on their own when your BGL levels are out of range. 
  • CGMs also allow you to see how various things impact your blood glucose levels like the impact of sports, different foods, medicines, new insulin doses, etc. Having this information can help you come up with a better plan with your doctor. 
  • Since there is such close monitoring with a CGM, it allows for better long-term control of diabetes as you are less likely to miss dangerously high or low levels. 
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Most Commonly Used CGMs

1. Dexcom G6 & G7

Both models of Dexcom CGMs are very common among people with type 1 diabetes. Most users are pretty happy with their Dexcom devices and find them very convenient. But they do note that the adhesion of the sensors can be low sometimes and they tend to fall off. 

As for their cost, the transmitter for Dexcom G6 costs about $360 and has a life of 3 months. A pack of 3 sensors costs about $320, so that will cover you for a month as each sensor has a life of 10 days.

So, the monthly cost is around $440, and the yearly cost will be around $5300 if you use exactly 12 sensor packs and 4 transmitters. 

The Dexcom G7 has the sensor and the transmitter in a single device, which has a life of 10 days. A box of 3 costs around $500 without any discount, so the total for the year is about $6000. 

But most insurance companies do cover it, and if yours doesn’t, you can use the Dexcom Simple Start program and get a box of 3 for about $89. 

2. Freestyle Libre 2 & 3

Both the Libre 2 and the most recently launched Libre 3 are very popular among diabetics. Some users have actually used the word “Love” for these devices, especially Libre 3, due to the compact size and feasibility. There is a slight divide about which is better and some people have had accuracy issues with 3, but most of them seem to like it better. 

For the Libre 2, the cost of a pack of 2 sensors is about $170 and these will last you a month as the lifespan of each sensor is 14 days. So, the cost for the year is just above $2040. 

The Freestyle Libre 3 is slightly cheaper with a pack of 2 costing $160, so this too will last you a month. The cost for the year is then roughly $1920. 

Again, these costs don’t take insurance coverage into account.

3. Medtronic Guardian Connect

This device is less popular than the Dexcom and Freestyle Libre models but still has its following. The Guardian Connect seems to have people on the fence, with some having pretty good experiences, whilst others are bothered by the constant alarms and the device breaking down regularly. 

The sensor for this CGM costs about $60 per week, so approximately $240 for the month. The transmitter costs $800 but can last for years, with a warranty of 1 year.

So apart from the initial cost of the transmitter, the yearly cost of the sensors is about $3000. 

4. Eversense

The Eversense is a slightly different option as its sensor is inserted underneath the skin by a healthcare professional. The transmitter is above the skin and only needs to be recharged for 15-20 minutes per day.

Since this is a newer product and not many people are willing to try it as it requires a procedure, there aren’t currently many reviews. Based on limited feedback, it seems that people do find it to be more accurate than other CGMs, but it’s tricky to find a doctor who is skilled at inserting it and people don’t like the scarring due to it. 

For this CGM, the 180-day sensor costs about $1350 so the annual cost is around $2700. You only need one transmitter a year which is $700

The insertion can cost around $450 for insertion, and $100 more for removal of an old sensor and insertion of a new one. So, the total comes to about $365/month or $4400/year.

Which CGM Is More Affordable?

Dexcom G6Dexcom G7Freestyle Libre 2Freestyle Libre 3Medtronic Guardian ConnectEversense
PriceBox of 3 sensors (1 per 10 days) – $320
Transmitter (3-month life) – $360
Box of 3 devices (1 per 10 days) – $500Pack of 2 sensors (1 sensor per 14 days) – $170Pack of 2 sensors (1 sensor used for 14 days) – $160Sensor (1 per week) – $60
Transmitter (1 time purchase) -$800
180-day sensor – $1350
Transmitter (12 month life) – $700
Additional insertion cost
Yearly Cost (without insurance or discounts)$5300$6000$2040$1920$3000 (apart from the initial cost of the transmitter)$4400

Final Thoughts

While all these CGMs are great options, there is one drastically cheaper set and that is the Freestyle Libre 2 and 3. Both devices cost almost half of the other options and provide comparable features to the others. People also have rather positive reviews of the Libre models.

All the devices have their own set of pros and cons, and user experience varies dramatically, but if looking just at prices, there is an obvious winner. However, these prices can go down drastically and become comparable if you have insurance. In that case, it depends on what features you are looking for and what suits you best.