Twenty-nine million Americans have diabetes. Many take insulin. Most need it to survive. Few can afford it.
Some are faced with difficult financial decisions each month. Pay for insulin or rent? Pay for insulin or utility bills? Pay for insulin or groceries? Many choose to go without insulin or take lower doses to save on cost.
Some Americans with Type 1 Diabetes, an autoimmune condition in which the pancreas produces little or no insulin, have been hoarding insulin to safeguard against the prescription drug’s rising prices. Laura Marston of Washington D.C. is one such American. Without insurance, she was paying $140 for a vial of Humalog, a fast-acting insulin typically injected prior to meals (she needs three vials each month). She was able to get insurance with an expensive monthly premium but the insulin will still cost her about $200 out-of-pocket each month.
Abby Cope, a nurse out of Rochester, New York, pays $460 each month for her insulin. This is an out-of-pocket cost for her. She said she has considered rationing her insulin for the simple reason that she can’t afford it. As a nurse, Cope realizes the consequences of not following the prescribed regimen, but can’t imagine how it feels for those who don’t know and choose to go without due to the expense.
In York, Pennsylvania, Robin Kann said she went to pick up her insulin at the usual pharmacy and found that it had increased from $106 to $593. She was shocked and questioned the pharmacy staff member about the price. The staff member replied, “Yes, all diabetes medicine jumped on September 30.”
After the price hike, Kann will need to pay over $1,000 per month for two diabetes prescriptions. That is in addition to the $700 insurance premium she and her husband pay each month. Kann left the pharmacy without picking up her prescription and wasn’t sure what she was going to do moving forward.
In Overland Park, Kansas, Michael Munger, MD recently saw an older diabetic patient for a regular check-up. The patient’s numbers (including his A1C, a test that shows average blood sugar levels) were poor. Before Dr. Munger could probe for the reason for these poor numbers, the patient said he lives on a fixed income and although he has Medicare coverage, he would have to pay $400 each month, out-of-pocket, for his insulin. “I can’t afford my insulin,” said the patient. “I haven’t had it in six weeks.”
Disheartening stories like these are popping up all over the country. What can be done to lower these inflated insulin prices? While many government leaders in elected positions are working to resolve or at least curb the issue, there are ways that those who need insulin can save on the medication today.
Solutions to Beat High Insulin Prices
Rx Advocacy Program (Unique Prescription Assistance Program)
The Rx Advocacy Program through LowestMed is a unique prescription assistance program. It is different from regular assistance programs because most applicants will qualify regardless of insurance status or income. This is not usually the case with regular programs. Once approved, members typically receive all medications at little to no cost. The program is $50 per month and can be cancelled at any time.
Prescription Assistance Programs (Also Known as Patient Assistance Programs)
The American Diabetes Association maintains a useful list of prescription assistance programs. These programs are set up specifically to assist those who have trouble affording their medications. Applicants typically need to qualify based on insurance status and income level.
Find the Lowest Insulin Prices at Nearby Pharmacies
LowestMed has a prescription price search tool that finds the lowest price for all FDA-approved drugs (including insulin) at pharmacies in the user’s area. Users can type in the medication, along with their zip code, and a list pharmacies will populate showing the lowest price first.
Insulin Copay Savings Cards and Programs
Most drug manufacturers have some type of savings cards or programs to help those who need it. Like the regular prescription assistance programs, applicants may need to “qualify” for these savings cards and programs. Here are a few:
No diabetic American should ever be faced with the choice of paying for insulin or groceries. Fortunately, there are ways to save on insulin. Try them today and share the cost-saving information with your diabetic friends and family.