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Your options on the Discovery CGM Benefit

We recently published the happy news that Discovery Health now offers a CGM Benefit and how to claim it. But what are your options on the Discovery CGM Benefit? How exactly does it work? There are three options – each with different Pro’s and Con’s, and different prices.

three options on the discovery cgm benefit

The three options on the Discovery CGM Benefit

The three options are:

  1. Abbott FreeStyle Libre
  2. Dexcom G6
  3. Medtronic Enlite sensor and Guardian Sensor 3

Let’s unpack each option a little more.

Abbott FreeStyle Libre

The FreeStyle Libre is not actually a Continuous Glucose Monitor (CGM) but a Flash Glucose Monitor. You can read all about it here. Essentially, there are two big differences between flash and CGM: flash is very simple and convenient to use – no transmitter, just a small sensor. And it doesn’t offer alarms. You don’t need to calibrate using fingersticks (checking the accuracy with a blood glucose test) like in some CGMs. When using the FreeStyle LibreLink app, you have excellent accuracy with a MARD of 9.2%, comparable to other CGMs in the South African market. (MARD is Mean Absolute Relative Difference and assesses the accuracy of CGMs).

The FreeStyle Libre is being sold as the most obvious first step if you’ve never tried a CGM before, because it gives you all the advantages of the CGM:

  • 24 hour blood glucose readings
  • Graphs and in-depth data that shows what your blood sugar is doing at different times
  • Ability to share your data with your doctor remotely through LibreView

All the details you need to decide

What the FreeStyle Libre doesn’t offer is alarms when your blood sugar is going too high or too low – many parents of children with diabetes want these alarms. CGM is often suggested for kids with diabetes or for adults who are hypo unaware (those who can’t feel low blood sugar). 

Abbott offers free remote training to get you used to the system, and they replace your sensors free of charge if anything happens to them.

The other big factor with the FreeStyle Libre is price. You don’t need to buy anything to start with it (no transmitters or readers – you can use the free LibreLink app on your phone). And you can get two FreeStyle Libre sensors a month, which means a whole month of no fingersticks, either for free or a co-pay of R390 or R780. Here’s how it looks:

Executive and Comprehensive PlansTotal co-payment per month for 2 FreeStyle Libre sensors
Type 1 diabetic members under 18 R0
Type 1 diabetic members over 18R390
All other plans (excluding Keycare)
Type 1 diabetic members under 18R390
Type 1 diabetic members over 18R780

Find out more about the FreeStyle Libre here.

For those who need the alarms that the FreeStyle Libre can’t offer, there are two options for CGM in South Africa: Dexcom G6 and Medtronic.


Dexcom G6

The Dexcom G6 CGM doesn’t require any fingersticks or calibrations and has alerts, alarms and accuracy in all glucose ranges, with a MARD of 9%. Sensors are replaced free of charge if anything happens to them.

To start, you need a transmitter – this costs R1 472 and lasts for 3 months (so you need to buy 4 every year). These are not covered by the Discovery CGM Benefit.

Each month, you need 3 sensors, which also cost R1 472, making it a monthly cost of R4 416. Here’s how it looks with the Discovery CGM Benefit:

Executive and Comprehensive PlansTotal co-payment per month for 3 Dexcom G6 sensors (no transmitters)
Type 1 diabetic members under 18 R2,856
Type 1 diabetic members over 18R3,246
All other plans (excluding Keycare)
Type 1 diabetic members under 18R3,246
Type 1 diabetic members over 18R3,636

Find out more about the Dexcom G6 here.


Medtronic Enlite sensor and Guardian Sensor 3

Medtronic has two CGM systems on offer in South Africa:

The Medtronic Enlite sensor works with their Guardian Connect (stand-alone CGM) as well as with their Veo insulin pump and 722 insulin pump.

The Medtronic Guardian Sensor 3 works with their MiniMed 640G, MiniMed 670G and MiniMed 780G insulin pumps. To find out more about insulin pumps, you can read this article. For now, let’s keep focused on the CGM! Both sensors are replaced free of charge if anything happens to them.

To get started on any of the Medtronic CGMs, you need to buy a transmitter, which costs R5 802 and is not covered by the Discovery CGM Benefit. This lasts 1 year.

The Medtronic Guardian Connect system (stand-alone CGM) has a MARD of 8.7% and requires  between 2 and 4 calibrations a day (fingerstick blood glucose tests to ensure the accuracy of the CGM). The system is the transmitter and sensor. Here are the costs for the Enlite sensor:

Executive and Comprehensive PlansTotal co-payment per month for the Medtronic Enlite sensor (no transmitter)
Type 1 diabetic members under 18 R463
Type 1 diabetic members over 18R853
All other plans (excluding Keycare)
Type 1 diabetic members under 18R853
Type 1 diabetic members over 18R1,243

The Medtronic Guardian Sensor 3 works with their insulin pumps (not a stand-alone CGM). It has the same MARD and calibration requirements as the Enlite sensor, but slightly different costs. It also needs the transmitter to work.

Executive and Comprehensive PlansTotal co-payment per month for the Medtronic Guardian Sensor 3 (no transmitter)
Type 1 diabetic members under 18 R740
Type 1 diabetic members over 18R1,130
All other plans (excluding Keycare)
Type 1 diabetic members under 18R1,130
Type 1 diabetic members over 18R1,520

Find out more about the Medtronic CGM options here.


Choose from these options on the Discovery CGM Benefit

Ultimately it is up to you which CGM or Flash Glucose Monitor you choose. Speak to your doctor or try each of them out to see what works for your diabetes – and your lifestyle. To find out exactly how the FreeStyle Libre works (with step-by-step videos), check out this article here. Or read how using the Libre changed Gillian Fraser’s life here.

Cost is a factor for many Diabetic South Africans, but the last few weeks have shown us that so many people feel that R780 for a month of no fingersticks and 24/7 diabetes data is a price well worth paying! Have you used a CGM before? What works for you?

What to read next?

We did it! How to claim the Discovery CGM Benefit: A step-by-step guide to claiming the CGM Benefit.

What is a CGM? All the details you need to understand how Continuous Glucose Monitoring and Flash Glucose Monitoring works.

Gillian Fraser: my journey with Type 1 diabetes: Gillian shares what has made the biggest difference to her diabetes management.

Photo by Javier Allegue Barros on Unsplash

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4 Comments

  1. […] Of course, you can only really see your time in target if you’re lucky enough to be using a Continuous Glucose Monitor (CGM) or flash glucose monitor. Here’s an explanation of CGMs and flash glucose monitors. Did you know that Discovery now offers a CGM Benefit? Find out your options here. […]

  2. […] people with Type 1 diabetes on Discovery Health get the CGM Benefit – here are the details, with a breakdown of exactly how much it will cost you for a FreeStyle Libre, or other CGM […]

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Sweet Life is a registered NPO/PBO (220-984) with a single goal: to improve diabetes in South Africa. We are funded by sponsorships and donations from aligned companies and organisations who believe in our work. We only share information that we believe benefits our community. While some of this information is linked to specific brands, it is not an official endorsement of that brand. We believe in empowering people with diabetes to make the best decisions they can, to live a healthy, happy life with diabetes.