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This article was medically reviewed by Amanda Ciprich, MS, RD. Last updated on 1/16/24.
Continuous Glucose Monitoring (CGM) has revolutionized how people with diabetes manage their condition. Two of the most popular CGM systems on the market today are the Freestyle Libre 3 and the Dexcom G6. Whether you are considering a CGM for the first time or looking to make a switch, this blog post will provide you with essential information to decide which CGM might be the best fit for your needs.
Is Dexcom G6 more accurate than Freestyle Libre 3?
Accurate performance of CGMs is important for people with diabetes to make safe and appropriate treatment decisions. The mean absolute relative difference (MARD) parameter is used most often to measure the performance of CGMs.
Dexcom G6 is known for their accuracy with an overall reported MARD score of 9%. Meanwhile, the Freestyle Libre 3 has a reported MARD of 7.9%. The Freestyle Libre 3 sensor does offer 14 days of glucose readings compared to the Dexcom G6 which offers10 days. The extended wear time renders the two sensor’s accuracy to be quite comparable. The accuracy of CGMs can be influenced by factors such as age, site location, sensor wear duration, and glucose level concentrations.
Wearability and Convenience
Freestyle Libre 3 is a compact all-in-one sensor measuring just 2.9x21mm along with an impressive 14-day wear-time.
In comparison, Dexcom G6 is more substantial in size, measuring 70x40x10 mm with a sensor life of 10 days. Apart from the larger size, Dexcom G6 consists of multiple components, including a sensor and reusable transmitter, whereas Libre 3 is an all-in-one system.
Dexcom G6 has received approval for users who are aged 2 years and older whereas the current version of Freestyle Libre 3 is only approved for users 4 years and older. However, it is worth noting that in March 2023, Abbott announced that a modified version of Freestyle Libre 3 sensors will be available in the US later this year and have received clearance for children as young as 2 years old with an extended wear-time of 15 days.
Cost is a significant factor when choosing a CGM system, as these devices can be expensive. The out-of-pocket costs of the Freestyle Libre 3 and Dexcom G6 may vary depending on factors such as insurance coverage and quantity of sensors purchased.
In general, the Freestyle Libre 3 tends to be a more cost-effective option when compared to the Dexcom G6. This is primarily due to the fact that it is an all-in-one system with a sensor that lasts 14 days. A single 14-day Freestyle Libre 3 sensor typically carries a retail price of around $75, or approximately $150 per month if you are not covered by your insurance. This affordability can make CGMs more accessible to many individuals with diabetes, particularly those who are self-funding their CGM systems or have limited insurance coverage.
In contrast, the Dexcom G6 tends to have a higher average cost without insurance. It’s typically around $300 for a 90-day transmitter and $440 for three 10-day sensors. Recently, GoodRx and Dexcom have partnered together to provide a discount to eligible self-paying customers, offering a reduction of $200 off the monthly price for Dexcom G6 sensors and a $200 discount on the Dexcom G6 90-day transmitter. Eligible customers may save up to $800 every 3 months with this discount, which could make Dexcom G6 a more cost-effective option to those who qualify.
Compatibility with Insulin Pumps
Dexcom G6 has earned a reputation for its compatibility with a range of insulin pumps, such as Tandem t:slim with Control IQ, Omnipod 5, and the Beta Bionics iLet insulin pump. This versatility has made it a preferred choice for many individuals managing diabetes, as it seamlessly integrates with numerous automated insulin delivery systems.
However, the landscape is evolving as Freestyle Libre 3 recently announced its clearance for integration with automated insulin delivery systems. This development marks a significant advancement in diabetes care, as it expands the choices available to individuals. Freestyle Libre 3 is prepared to introduce integration with both Tandem and Insulet insulin pump systems later this year.
The decision between Freestyle Libre 3 and Dexcom G6 will be based on your individual preferences and priorities with your diabetes management. It is crucial to have a conversation with your healthcare team since they are familiar with your specific needs.
About Amanda Ciprich, MS, RD
Amanda Ciprich, a registered dietitian with a specialization in type 1 diabetes, was diagnosed with T1D herself at the age of 18. With her expertise and personal experience, she has authored two books, including "The Caregiver's Guide to Diabetes: Practical Advice for Caring for Your Loved One." As the founder of T1D Nutritionist, a virtual insurance-based private practice, Amanda provides counseling and guidance to individuals with T1D and their families, supporting them in effectively managing diabetes.