Soaring insulin prices have some local diabetics scared. They said they can’t afford the rising costs and are being forced to make difficult medical and financial choices to control their condition.
The Journal of the American Medical Association published a study that shows insulin prices nearly tripling from 2002 to 2013.
“Will I have enough,” is a question diabetic Judie Benjamin asks herself almost every month.
“I can’t afford to keep putting it on a debit card, my credit cards are maxed out,” said Benjamin.
The 74-year-old has a fixed income and is on Medicare Part D.
Right now, she’s in the so-called donut hole or coverage gap which means she’s paying more out of pocket for her medications. She can’t afford the $212 a month price tag for the two insulin drugs she needs.
“At $102 for a bottle of insulin I don’t know one senior who could pay that out whose on social security,” said Benjamin.
LifeCare Alliance President and CEO Chuck Gehring said it’s a scenario he sees play out every day.
“People with diabetes that have to buy insulin, if you do not have private insurance you have a problem,” said Gehring.
He said many of his clients are being forced to ration their insulin which can lead to dangerous consequences.
“The average family, there’s just no way they can handle this,” he said. “You gotta decide then at that point are you buying your insulin or are you paying your rent? That’s really what it comes down to.”
Benjamin filled out mounds of paperwork to qualify for a patient assistance program to get some insulin for free. A task that is not only time consuming, but frustrating.
“You have to jump through hoops. It took a good six weeks of getting the paperwork together sending in. I have to send these in to my doctor,” said Benjamin.
It’s a price she’s willing to pay to stay alive.
The big question is why are insulin prices soaring? There’s no concrete answer. Gehring expects a congressional hearing to be held about the issue soon.
We reached out to Eli Lilly, one of the largest insulin manufacturers in the world. It said it launched a solution center in August to help people lower and cap high monthly out of pocket costs. So far, it said 2,500 people have found meaningful solutions.