National diabetes organizations report that the cost of insulin tripled between 2002 and 2013. If that wasn’t bad enough, two of the leading insulin manufacturers increased the list price on their products by about 8% in the last year. We know the high cost of insulin is a problem for many people. Organizations like the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and American Diabetes Association are urging Congress to intervene. Class action law suits have been filed. We agree it’s unacceptable. But what can you do in the meantime? We have a few suggestions:
1. Call your doctor to ask if they have any suggestions. Ask if there are any other insulin products you can try that would be lower cost? Generic insulins aren’t much less expensive, but it doesn’t hurt to ask. Before you go without, ask if your doc has any samples they can give you to help tie you over each month. Ask if they have any pharmacy drug coupons you can use.
2. If you pick up your insulin at a local pharmacy, look into the online discount options or mail-order supply companies. Here are some prescription assistance resources provided by the ADA.
3. Call your insurance company. Tell them you can’t afford the insulin (perhaps because of your high deductible), and ask them if you have any options. Explain that you are being compliant with doctors orders and doing what you can to stay healthy. Explain that if you don’t have the insulin you need to keep your blood sugar down, you may end up in the hospital. We know it’s hard, but try to keep your cool. We’ve experienced that a polite phone call (or two) to your insurance company can go a long way.
4. A few insurance companies (like UnitedHealthcare) will soon start helping their insureds by passing the rebates they get from the drug companies on insulin on to the customers. Here’s a article in the Washington Post explaining the issue. It’s an issue worth talking to your insurance company about. Tell them you want them to pass the rebates on insulin to you, at the point of sale.
5. Call your state Senators and Representatives in Congress and tell them you live in their district and are impacted by the high cost of insulin. Ask them to join the Congressional Diabetes Caucus and tell them you want the Federal government to help regulate the cost of insulin in the U.S.
6. Call your local chapter of the American Diabetes Association or JDRF, and find out if they have any suggestions.