Insulin prices leaves many diabetics unable to afford health care

Posted at 10:15 PM, Jul 29, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-29 23:15:07-04

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — The rising cost of insulin has many diabetics worried that they may not be able to afford their health care and medication.

People who suffer from Type 1 Diabetes, like Terry Weland, rely on insulin to survive. Monthly maintenance and costs are reaching up to hundreds of dollars, which leave many diabetic patients scrambling for ways to afford healthy living.

Weland, a 28 year advocate for JDRF, says he is paying about $400 a month on only two insulin vials with the help of Medicare. If someone without insurance tries to buy insulin, they could be spending around $350 per vial. The average price nearly tripled between 2002 and 2013, according to The American Diabetes Association.

"A Type 1 Diabetic has to have insulin, or I would be dead before the day is out," said Weland.

He added that because diabetics can't afford their insulin, they are trying to ration their consumption. Doing that, said Weland, can put them in the hospital with even more expensive bills, or can even result in death.

Weland said, "The average cost for a trip to the emergency room is about $15,000 a trip for here in the metro area."

The prices are so high for newer insulin because of its fast acting properties. Older versions of insulin, however, could be cheaper, but more dangerous. They take a longer time to begin working, and may not take effect until after the body is hyperglycemia or hypoglycemic.

Since the invention of the insulin drug in the 1921, the cost has gone up about 34,900%.

Weland says a step towards resolving the issue is for drug and insurance companies, including Medicare, to come to an agreed fixed price for insulin.

Senator Sue Crawford of Bellevue has taken interest in the issue, and is looking for ways to potentially introduce a bill for lower insulin costs. They are currently researching the issue, and will have a better idea of how the bill will look like this fall.