National Coverage Determination (NCD)

Blood Glucose Testing


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Tracking Information

Publication Number
Manual Section Number
Manual Section Title
Blood Glucose Testing
Version Number
Effective Date of this Version
Ending Effective Date of this Version
Implementation Date
Implementation QR Modifier Date

Description Information

Benefit Category
Diagnostic Laboratory Tests

Please Note: This may not be an exhaustive list of all applicable Medicare benefit categories for this item or service.

Item/Service Description

This policy is intended to apply to blood samples used to determine glucose levels. Blood glucose determination may be done using whole blood, serum or plasma. It may be sampled by capillary puncture, as in the fingerstick method, or by vein puncture or arterial sampling. The method for assay may be by color comparison of an indicator stick, by meter assay of whole blood or a filtrate of whole blood, using a device approved for home monitoring, or by using a laboratory assay system using serum or plasma. The convenience of the meter or stick color method allows a patient to have access to blood glucose values in less than a minute or so and has become a standard of care for control of blood glucose, even in the inpatient setting.

Indications and Limitations of Coverage


Blood glucose values are often necessary for the management of patients with diabetes mellitus, where hyperglycemia and hypoglycemia are often present. They are also critical in the determination of control of blood glucose levels in the patient with impaired fasting glucose (FPG 110-125 mg/dL), the patient with insulin resistance syndrome and/or carbohydrate intolerance (excessive rise in glucose following ingestion of glucose or glucose sources of food), in the patient with a hypoglycemia disorder such as nesidioblastosis or insulinoma, and in patients with a catabolic or malnutrition state. In addition to those conditions already listed, glucose testing may be medically necessary in patients with tuberculosis, unexplained chronic or recurrent infections, alcoholism, coronary artery disease (especially in women), or unexplained skin conditions (including pruritis, local skin infections, ulceration and gangrene without an established cause).

Many medical conditions may be a consequence of a sustained elevated or depressed glucose level. These include comas, seizures or epilepsy, confusion, abnormal hunger, abnormal weight loss or gain, and loss of sensation. Evaluation of glucose may also be indicated in patients on medications known to affect carbohydrate metabolism.

Effective January 1, 2005, the Medicare law expanded coverage to diabetic screening services. Some forms of blood glucose testing covered under this national coverage determination may be covered for screening purposes subject to specified frequencies. See 42 CFR 410.18 and section 90, chapter 18, of the Claims Processing Manual, for a full description of this screening benefit.


Frequent home blood glucose testing by diabetic patients should be encouraged. In stable, non-hospitalized patients who are unable or unwilling to do home monitoring, it may be reasonable and necessary to measure quantitative blood glucose up to four times annually.

Depending upon the age of the patient, type of diabetes, degree of control, complications of diabetes, and other co-morbid conditions, more frequent testing than four times annually may be reasonable and necessary.

In some patients presenting with nonspecific signs, symptoms, or diseases not normally associated with disturbances in glucose metabolism, a single blood glucose test may be medically necessary. Repeat testing may not be indicated unless abnormal results are found or unless there is a change in clinical condition. If repeat testing is performed, a specific diagnosis code (e.g., diabetes) should be reported to support medical necessity. However, repeat testing may be indicated where results are normal in patients with conditions where there is a confirmed continuing risk of glucose metabolism abnormality (e.g., monitoring glucocorticoid therapy).

Note: Scroll down for links to the quarterly Covered Code Lists (including narrative).

Cross Reference

Medicare Claims Processing Manual, Chapter 16, Section 120, Clinical Laboratory Services Based on Negotiated Rulemaking.

Claims Processing Instructions

Transmittal Information

Transmittal Number
Revision History

02/2005 - Added reference to screening benefits. Effective date 1/01/05. Implementation date 3/11/05. (TN 28) (CR 3690)

07/2004 - Published NCD in NCD Manual without change to narrative contained in PM AB-02-110. Coding guidance published in Medicare Lab NCD Manual. Effective and Implementation dates NA. (TN 17) (CR 2130)

07/2002 - Implemented NCD. Effective date 11/25/02. Implementation date 1/01/03. (TN AB-02-110) (CR 2130)


Covered Code Lists (including narrative)

July 2024 (PDF) (ICD-10)
April 2024 (PDF) (ICD-10)
January 2024 (PDF) (ICD-10)
October 2023 (PDF) (ICD-10)
July 2023 (PDF) (ICD-10)
April 2023 (PDF) (ICD-10)
January 2023 (PDF) (ICD-10)
October 2022 (PDF) (ICD-10)
July 2022 (PDF) (ICD-10)
April 2022 (PDF) (ICD-10)
January 2022 (PDF) (ICD-10)
October 2021 (PDF) (ICD-10)
July 2021 (PDF) (ICD-10)
April 2021 (PDF) (ICD-10)
January 2021 (PDF) (ICD-10)
October 2020 (PDF) (ICD-10)
July 2020 (PDF) (ICD-10)
April 2020 (PDF) (ICD-10)
January 2020 (PDF) (ICD-10)
October 2019 (PDF) (ICD-10)
July 2019 (PDF) (ICD-10)
April 2019 (PDF) (ICD-10)
January 2019 (PDF) (ICD-10)
October 2018 (PDF) (ICD-10)
July 2018 (PDF) (ICD-10)
April 2018 (PDF) (ICD-10)
January 2018 (ICD-10)
October 2017 (ICD-10)
July 2017 (ICD-10)
April 2017 (ICD-10)
January 2017 (ICD-10)
October 2016 (ICD-10)
January 2016 (ICD-10)
October 2015 (ICD-10, ICD-9)
October 2014 (ICD-10, ICD-9)

Changes to Lab NCD Edit Software

July 2024
January 2024
October 2023
April 2023
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January 2016
October 2014

National Coverage Analyses (NCAs)

This NCD has been or is currently being reviewed under the National Coverage Determination process. The following are existing associations with NCAs, from the National Coverage Analyses database.

Additional Information

Other Versions
Title Version Effective Between
Blood Glucose Testing 2 01/01/2005 - N/A You are here
Blood Glucose Testing 1 11/25/2002 - 01/01/2005 View
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CPT only copyright 2002-2011 American Medical Association. All rights reserved. CPT is a registered trademark of the American Medical Association. Applicable FARS/DFARS Apply to Government Use. Fee schedules, relative value units, conversion factors and/or related components are not assigned by the AMA, are not part of CPT, and the AMA is not recommending their use. The AMA does not directly or indirectly practice medicine or dispense medical services. The AMA assumes no liability for data contained or not contained herein.
Reasons for Denial
Note: This section has not been negotiated by the Negotiated RuleMaking Committee. It includes CMS’s interpretation of it’s longstanding policies and is included for informational purposes. Tests for screening purposes that are performed in the absense of signs, symptoms, complaints, or personal history of disease or injury are not covered except as explicity authorized by statue. These include exams required by insurance companies, business establishments, government agencies, or other third parties. Tests that are not reasonable and necessary for the diagnosis or treatment of an illness or injury are not covered according to the statue. Failure to provide documentation of the medical necessity of tests may result in denial of claims. The documentation may include notes documenting relevant signs, symptoms, or abnormal findings that substantiate the medical necessity for ordering the tests. In addition, failure to provide independent verification that the test was ordered by the treating physician (or qualified nonphysician practitioner) through documentation in the physician’s office may result in denial. A claim for a test for which there is a national coverage or local medical review policy will be denied as not reasonable and necessary if it is submitted without an ICD-9-CM code or narrative diagnosis listed as covered in the policy unless other medical documentation justifying the necessity is submitted with the claim. If a national or local policy identifies a frequency expectation, a claim for a test that exceeds that expectation may be denied as not reasonable and necessary, unless it is submitted with documentation justifying increased frequency. Tests that are not ordered by a treating physician or other qualified treating nonphysician practitioner acting within the scope of their license and in compliance with Medicare requirements will be denied as not reasonable and necessary. Failure of the laboratory performing the test to have the appropriate Clinical Laboratory Improvement Act of 1988 (CLIA) certificate for the testing performed will result in denial of claims.