More than 7 million people in the United States rely on some form of insulin to manage diabetes. But the cost of this life-saving medication continues to become increasingly out of reach for those who need it most. Insulin costs are 10 times higher in the United States than in any other developed country.1 The average price of insulin increased three times between 2002 and 2013 and has continued to increase since.2
So why is insulin so expensive?
There are many reasons insulin prices continue to rise. The main issue is that despite being discovered 100 years ago, there is no generic version of insulin available. So, unlike many other drugs, which often offer a common version at a much lower cost, insulin is only available from three major makers. Politics, legal loopholes and patents are just some of the reasons why insulin prices are so high. But one thing stays true: Those with type 1 and many with type 2 diabetes need insulin to survive and stay healthy.
What do high insulin costs mean for those living with diabetes?
Those living with diabetes often need to make choices, like giving up other important purchases such as food, other medications, childcare or healthy activities, to afford their insulin. Even many people covered by insurance still struggle with the high cost of copays or deductibles for insulin.
To make their insulin supply last longer, some people practice insulin rationing. Insulin rationing is when someone skips insulin doses or takes less than they should.3 This can lead to significant health problems, including diabetic ketoacidosis, which can be deadly.
More than 25% of adults in the United States with diabetes said they’ve skipped or lowered doses at some point because of money problems. In addition, factors like poor health insurance, age and race contributed to access to affordable insulin.4, 5
How to get the insulin you need
While access to affordable insulin is a huge problem in the United States, there are ways to get help.
- Drug assistance programs
- The drug companies that create insulin help people afford their medication. Access to these programs is based on how much money you make. Click here for more information.
- Savings cards
- Drug makers may offer drug cards that can lower the cost of your insulin. Patients with any income can get these cards unless they’re enrolled in Medicare.
- Insulin payment programs
- There are other ways to save money. Provide some basic information and the service will find a program that can help you get the insulin you need. Check out these resources for more information.
- Coupon sites and government help
- These will be different based on where you live and your income. Talk to a coach about what’s available to you and how to apply.
Insulin is needed to make sure people with diabetes can live a healthy life. Speak to your coach about how to get insulin and feel better.