I agree, Sam. The marketplace for test-strips is anything but free. It is distorted by insurance companies looking for the best deal for themselves with no value placed in the health or well-being of their premium payers.
My economic situation differs from yours. I test a lot, like 14/day a lot! I can not build a rational case for me to buy strips out of pocket with that quantity.
I'm also concerned with good quality control as there is no after-market surveillance in place. Why would any profit-seeking org be concerned with quality control?
There is a move afoot to do post-market surveillance but it is not in place yet. If there were a robust third-party program that published regular findings and rankings then maybe these companies would improve their prices and quality.
On top of that, I expect that the CGMs will soon (next year or two) be able to get FDA approval to permit insulin dosing and corrections based on CGM results, with a few pointed exceptions. That would undercut a large segment of the strip volume. I might go from 14x/day to 4x/day. If that kind of volume reduction happened across the board, that would get the strip manufacturer's attention.