Freestyle Libre vs Dexcom, Differences, Choosing the Right One

Posted September 21, 2020 by Michael Chamberlain - See Editorial Guidelines

Dealing with diabetes comes with the possibility of deciding between the use of several different diabetes devices on the market. It can seem daunting when choosing one that best suits you and your diabetes condition and trying to compare these products without prior knowledge on either.

We want to try and make that easier for you. So, in this article, we’ll give a clear comparison between the two diabetes management products, Freestyle Libre vs Dexcom – starting with this quick reference answer.

Freestyle Libre vs Dexcom? The Freestyle Libre and Dexcom are both CGM (Continuous Glucose Monitor) systems. Freestyle Libre has a smooth insertion but less accuracy than Dexcom. Dexcom is more expensive but is more effective over Freestyle Libre.

What are They? – Freestyle Libre vs Dexcom

To ensure we’re all talking about the right products and you know what each one is, here’s a summary of both Dexcom and Freestyle Libre.

Dexcom

Dexcom is a CGM (continuous glucose monitor), meaning it monitors your blood sugar levels every five minutes. The Dexcom comes with a transmitter that sends the readings to your phone or Dexcom reader via Bluetooth.

The Dexcom will send alerts to your device whenever your blood sugar is out of range, letting the user know of hyperglycemia or hypoglycemia. This alerting feature will provide enough time for you to treat severe diabetes conditions early.

Freestyle Libre

Freestyle Libre vs Dexcom

Freestyle Libre is also a CGM but requires the sensor to be scanned by the reader or app on your phone. So, unlike the Dexcom sending readings automatically to one’s device, the user will have to scan the sensor to see what their blood sugar level is.

This device reads one’s glucose every 15 minutes and stores data in an 8-hour rolling log.

Older versions of the Libre do not send alerts like the Dexcom does. However, the most recent model, Freestyle Libre 2, does come with customizable alerts for high and low blood sugar levels.

Design and Insertion – Freestyle Libre vs Dexcom

The Dexcom requires a more complex process for insertion compared to the Libre.

When inserting the Dexcom sensor, you will have to place the applicator, which contains the sensor, against your skin. A button on the applicator is then pushed, which triggers the needle to be inserted and the sensor applied. You will then have to pull the applicator straight out, removing the needle.

The transmitter for the Dexcom will then have to be placed in the sensor. The reader or app will then prompt you to start the sensor. The warm-up period (the time taken for the device to start showing results) takes two hours.

The Freestyle Libre has a simpler insertion process, making it less painful and uncomfortable in some circumstances.

The Libre applicator does most of the work for you. You press down on the applicator once you have it held up to the application site. The applicator then triggers the needle to insert, then retract immediately, making less work for the user.

The Freestyle Libre does not have a transmitter, so there are fewer steps in the application process when comparing Freestyle Libre vs Dexcom.

The warm-up period after insertion is also quicker than Dexcom at around one hour. 

Accuracy – Freestyle Libre vs Dexcom

Firstly, it’s important to say that both Dexcom and Freestyle Libre do not detect blood glucose, but glucose in the interstitial fluid. This is the reason why many find finger prick results to be more accurate than CGM’s.

Therefore, both Dexcom and Freestyle Libre can show a 15-minute delay in the results when compared to a finger prick test.

Manufacturers of CGM’s say that there can be an error margin of up 20%. So, neither Dexcom nor Freestyle Libre is 100 percent accurate in any way.

Also, in general, for the first 24 hours of using these devices, they’re unlikely to be completely accurate, because your body is getting used to the device.

However, when comparing these two models – based on users’ experiences, on average, the Dexcom CGM was more accurate than Freestyle Libre.

Also, the accuracy of Dexcom can depend on the site in which you insert the device. For some, wearing the Dexcom on the abdomen gives more accurate results, whereas when it’s worn on the thighs, it’s thought to take longer to show accurate readings.

Freestyle Libre, on the other hand, on the first day of use, can often show quite inaccurate readings. Readings from the Freestyle Libre were seen to be inconsistent. However, again, many say that this depends on the insertion site.

Price – Freestyle Libre vs Dexcom

Freestyle Libre vs Dexcom

The starter Kit for Dexcom on average costs upward of $1,200 through retail channels. Whereas, a box of three sensors that lasts a user about one month costs about $350. Patients will also need to purchase the transmitters, which last 3 months each. A box of 2 transmitters costs about $475.

These prices are not inclusive of any insurance.

With proper documentation and certain other eligibility criteria, some insurances are starting to cover Dexcom and its supplies, including programs like Medicare.

Aside from this, there may be online coupons you can use that can help you save on your out-of-pocket cost.

The Freestyle Libre, on average, costs around $130 for 2 sensors, which lasts about a month. However, most insured patients will not pay more than $75 a month for the sensors and $65 for the reader, which is a one-time purchase.

Which is Most Effective – Freestyle Libre vs Dexcom

To begin with, both the devices have their pros and cons, and neither is 100% accurate compared to the finger-prick test.

But Dexcom takes the lead over Freestyle Libre when it comes to effectiveness, although it is more expensive.  

The reason why Dexcom is more effective in diabetes management than Freestyle Libre is down to the fact that it provides continuous readings without the need to scan.

Apart from this, Dexcom readings are consistent and much closer to the finger-prick tests than Freestyle Libre.

To Finish

We hope this has given you greater insight into Freestyle Libre vs Dexcom. If you are still in doubt as to which one is better for you, consult your doctor.

Prescription Hope works with pharmaceutical manufacturers to help you receive your medication at a set, affordable cost. So, if you are having trouble affording your medication, then enroll with us now to find out if you’re eligible to receive each of your prescription medications for $50 a month.

Which is better – Freestyle Libre vs Dexcom?

Based on user experiences, the Dexcom is more accurate than the Freestyle Libre. However, the Freestyle Libre is less invasive and is easier to apply. Dexcom provides more alarms compared to the Libre and alerts patients of predicted highs and lows.

How long do Dexcom and Freestyle Libre last?

The Dexcom G6 sensor must be changed every 10 days and the transmitter will last 3 months. The Freestyle Libre does not have a transmitter and the sensors must be changed every 14 days.



ENROLL NOW LEARN MORE