Priced Out: Why Affordable Insulin Is A Necessity, Not An Option
... when you have to make a decision between mortgage or medical supplies, it is daunting.
I have been a type 1 diabetic for 32 years. I had diabetic ketoacidosis, a serious complication of diabetes that occurs when your body produces high levels of blood acids called ketones, and recovered in 2019.
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When my doctor put me on an insulin pump in 2018, I went to a local pharmacy to pick up my maintenance supply of insulin and was told the price was $600 for two vials. This price was a huge jump from my previous maintenance cost of $75 for 3 boxes of novolog pens. After speaking with the pharmacist, I learned there was nothing they could do for me. Instinctively, I called my insurance company.
Since it was a weekend, my insurance company was closed. My doctor's office was also closed. I went into a state of panic because I only had a quarter of a vial left, and I had no way of paying for my life-saving vials of insulin.
Fortunately, my doctor was able to give me her last vial of novolog to hold me over. But I was still angry. Angry because of the hassle and stress I was just put through. Angry that there was no real solution or relief. Angry because pharmaceutical companies seemed to care more about profit than my health. It felt like someone was playing with my life.
I called and complained to everyone, including Novo Nordisk and Eli Lilly — big pharmaceutical companies that are hiking up their drug prices. I filled out their applications to quality for lower costs, but was turned down because I have health insurance. However, my health insurance cannot keep up with these outrageous prices. It was an endless cycle.
Not only are insurance company deductibles inflated, but my out-of-pocket expenses have quadrupled over the last decade and are now more than a month’s rent.
Trust me, when you have to make a decision between mortgage or medical supplies, it is daunting.
I am not alone.
Approximately one in four people with diabetes lower or skip their insulin doses because they cannot afford the medication. As diabetics, we need our insulin to survive.
I am fighting for permanent fixes, not temporary ones. Time and time again, it is clear that not enough is being done to make sure we can afford the insulin that keeps us alive. We need politicians who prioritize patient lives over corporate profits and who will not cower when people’s lives are on the line.
Join me and 30.3 million other people who live with diabetes in the United States in fighting for affordable insulin and lower drug prices. We are holding politicians accountable and not allowing pharmaceutical companies’ profits to influence their decisions anymore. There is no time to wait because our lives are on the line. We need affordable insulin now.
Sharon Conward is a type 1 diabetic and advocate for insulin justice with Health Care Voter and Affordable Insulin NOW.