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For the increasing number of Americans with diabetes, the selection of diabetic products is vast, with roughly 200 glucose meters made by 50 manufacturers. Although it is a crowded market, it is also largely dominated by huge multinational pharmaceutical companies such as Johnson & Johnson.
Round 1 of the Competitive Bidding Program included mail-order diabetic supplies in nine cities, a move that advocates said is driving patients away from mail order and into retail pharmacies, where they can continue to use products they know and trust. According to Johnson, providers dispensing from a brick and mortar store—either a pharmacy or an HME location—are still getting about $38 in reimbursement for a box of 50 test strips. The number of providers conducting mail-order business will shrink as competitive bidding spreads, but an avenue for sales will remain, as demonstrated by many patients in Round 1 areas.
Despite lower prices for mail-order supplies, Robert Wernsman, vice president of the consumer healthcare division at ARKRAY USA, cautioned that diabetes products should not be taken lightly by patients or providers. The diversified approach can serve providers equally well, particularly for those dreading competitive bidding—if it is enacted as currently constructed.
Investing in education may seem like an unattractive option in tough times, but Ursprung believes it can be worthwhile in some cases. Bryan Sowards, CEO of Infopia USA, agreed that providers will continue to crave knowledge and that might make a trip to Medtrade Spring or the fall show an attractive option.
The savvy approach is all but a necessity in today’s market, with baby boomers increasingly wanting high quality and low prices. Ursprung maintained that many providers believe patients are married to their brands and will likely refuse to switch.
Meanwhile, one in three Americans are considered pre-diabetic above and beyond the roughly 26 million diagnosed diabetics.
At this point, many small- to mid-size companies do not know if they will win a competitive bidding contract, and they acknowledge that a win is far from a ticket to success. Whether the market is mail order or retail, Morey believes providers and patients will respond to quality and innovation. Increased Medicare requirements and audits challenged our providers more than we have ever seen in the past.
Going into 2012, while we will continue to look for more ways to make the Medicare process easier, we feel our providers are much better prepared to meet these challenges.
To say diabetic products and footwear are “good” opportunities is an understatement—a big one. Diabetic footwear helps prevent serious foot health complications that can arise as a result of diabetes, such as ulcerations and amputations.

The costs associated with treating a foot ulcer can be as high as $20,000, with an amputation as high as $70,000. Aside from the Medicare and competitive bidding challenges discussed above, I think the biggest challenge is continually looking for new ways to market their products and services, as well as diversify their offerings to fill as many needs as possible with each patient they see. Capturing their audience, raising awareness, maximizing every opportunity and increasing efficiencies every step of the way are the primary keys to survival—and success.
Looking for a Medicare and Diabetic approved shoe that’s comfortable enough for everyday use? SAS CoolStep™ Foot Bed: A removable foot bed designed to keep the foot dry and comfortable all day long. SAS Foot-Shape® Last: This special last follows the natural shape of your foot, providing all-day comfort while giving plenty of room for your toes. All-Day Comfort Supersoft® Lightweight Sole: The wider sole base provides increased stability and maximum shock absorption. These New Balance 990 Shoes have rubber, which can give you just the right amount of attitude no matter what you are doing.
Diagnostics were essentially similar to 2010, with the company seeking to cut costs and per-unit profitability remaining flat. Former mail-order customers switched to retail pharmacies, and reimbursements were not cut for those businesses, Johnson said.
Despite the undeniable demand, competitive bidding undermines the market stability and predictability that businesses crave. Comfort diabetic shoes offer style and comfortDiabetic footwear can be a key offering for the full-spectrum diabetic products provider, but it requires the right approach and a good understanding of market dynamics.
They have accepted that our industry is under increased scrutiny, and most have put better systems in place to maintain their ability to provide our products to patients. While diabetic footwear is not a part of competitive bidding (due to the relatively low cost), some of our providers who relied heavily on providing medical equipment (that was a part of competitive bidding) struggled to maintain profitability because those revenue opportunities were lost. On average, the rate of amputation for people with diabetes is 10 times higher than for people without diabetes. The CDC reported in January 2012 that amputation rates for diabetics have fallen by more than half since the mid 1990s. The numbers are clearly there for increased business in diabetic footwear, as well as most other medical equipment. The materials we use never lose their shock-absorbing capacity ensuring you have comfort all day long.

This sole is made of long-lasting, molded polyurethane containing millions of tiny air bubbles to cushion each step. The New Balance 990 Shoes will give you the support and cushioning you need to hit the gym in comfort. It is a tall order, but some small to mid-sized manufacturers are able to compete with more attractive pricing.
It is good news for providers looking to switch business models with the help of new manufacturing partners. Comfort continued to grow in 2011, we fell short of our expectations.Eric Lorenz Senior VP and GM, Dr. Comparing this to the cost to Medicare of providing diabetic shoes and inserts (typically less than $300), it is easy to see why Medicare reimburses for them.
This is right around the time Medicare began paying for blood sugar monitoring and diabetic footwear. Comfort, we work hard to provide the information and tools our providers need to do those things.
Please check directly with Medicare or your healthcare provider for instructions on how to file your claim. We are confident—especially in light of trends like this—that Medicare and the CDC will continue to encourage and support diabetic footwear as part of a comprehensive foot care program to help prevent diabetic amputations.
But it’s the creativity and ingenuity in how some of our providers use what we provide that determines how successful they are. Take Time’s SAS Tripad® construction and SAS Supersoft® lightweight sole will deliver you maximum shock absorption for a day on your feet.
Initial fit should be wide enough to stay comfortable across the ball of the foot and roomy enough in front so the toes are not cramped. SAS CoolStep™ foot beds are anti-bacterial, antifungal and washable for a healthy foot environment.
Of those diabetics who have a medical need for diabetic footwear, less than 20 percent currently receive them. Raising awareness—of both consumers and health care professionals—is our biggest challenge.

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