The price of insulin is a huge problem here in the U.S.
In 1932, Frederick Banting discovered insulin, but he had refused to put his name on the patent. He thought it would be highly unethical for a doctor to profit from a discovery that would save millions of lives.
Not long after the discovery, Banting and his co-inventors James Collip and Charles Best sold the insulin patent to the University of Toronto for just $1. They firmly held the belief that anyone who needed medication for their diabetes deserved to be able to afford it easily.
But insulin is just one of many examples of drugs and medications that have experienced inflated prices.
So, what gives? Why are insulin and other medication that is extremely important for millions of Americans so high?
And, for people with diabetes who are struggling with affording insulin, what options do they have?
Let’s break it down.
Why Is Insulin So Expensive in the United States?
To get to the heart of this problem, we first must go abroad—oversees in fact—to England.
In England, people with diabetes typically don’t have an issue with affording insulin. This is due to the government stepping in and negotiating directly with pharmaceutical companies. For example, they’ll approach insulin companies and set a maximum price that the insulin can be priced at.
If the insulin providers don’t agree, then they simply can’t operate in that market. In other words, what the government says goes, and unlike many pharmaceutical companies, they don’t sacrifice the health of those with diabetes for profits.
As you may have guessed by now, in the United States, the government doesn’t do that. Instead, there is a free-market approach to pharmaceuticals, which allows companies to drive up their prices. The regulation is lax, which allows these pharmaceutical companies to do whatever they want with pricing.
Until the U.S. government decides to intervene with pharmaceutical pricing, many Americans will continue to struggle to afford insulin.
If you find yourself in this position, here are 5 solutions for getting insulin when you can’t afford it.
5 Solutions For Getting Insulin When You Can’t Afford it
Call Healthcare Provider
One of the first things you should do when you realize that you aren’t able to afford your insulin is to contact a healthcare provider and let them know about your situation. Many practices are willing and able to give out insulin samples, which can hold you over as you look for ways to get a regular supply of insulin that will cost less.
Look into Drug Savings Cards
When it comes to drug savings cards, people with government-backed prescription drug coverage (i.e., Medicare, TRICARE, Medicaid, Veterans Administration, etc.) usually can’t use one of these savings cards. However, it is still worth looking into, as it can dramatically reduce the price of insulin for you and potentially lower your copay to zero. Reach out to the insulin drug companies to find out if you can get one.
Apply For Assistance
There are some programs out there that can help you afford insulin. Here is a list of them with links for learning more information:
- Extra Help
- Lily Cares
- The Partnership for Prescription Assistance
- Rx Assist
- Rx Hope
- BenefitsCheckUp (for seniors)
Check Health Insurance to Make Sure You’re Getting the Best Deal
Go on your health insurance plan’s website or call the insurance customer service line and see if you’re using the insulin covered by your plan at the best price. You should also check that your prescription is being filled at a pharmacy that is covered by your plan.
If insulin with the best coverage is different from the insulin you use, call your doctor’s office and ask about changing your prescription, as this can bring down the price of your insulin.
Speak With a Doctor About Your Ability to Afford Insulin
The Americans with Disabilities act encourages healthcare professionals to discuss the affordability of diabetes medications with their patients openly. So, don’t be afraid to speak up about any concerns you have about the price of your insulin. The practitioner will be happy to discuss alternatives with you.