Right now, while you’re reading this, there’s a woman who has sold everything she owns (TWICE!) just to be able to afford her monthly insulin.
And when I say everything, I do mean everything.
Her apartment, her vehicle, her family valuables, furniture. She even sold her dog.
The reason why is because she’d literally die without her insulin. For her, it doesn’t matter that the price of a vial has gone from $21 to over $270…because it’s not just some drug manufactured by a pharmaceutical company.
It’s a hormone made by her body that controls how much sugar is in her bloodstream at any, given time.
Every human needs insulin.
Insulin also controls getting any excess sugar to the proper storage locations like your liver and fat cells.
Without it, you could become confused, lose your eyesight, feel nauseous, have irregular heartbeat, and even die.
So let’s talk about why it’s not so easy for everyone who needs it to get their insulin. There’s a human cost to insulin, and I’d like as many people to know as possible!
Let’s start with the actual cost.
Why Does Insulin Cost So Much?
No one can give a straight answer to the patients who need it most.
Back in 1923, when man-made insulin was first discovered and produced, it only cost $1 per vial.
The goal was to keep the price low so that people who needed it to survive could buy it without breaking the bank.
But over time, that generous, human-centered mindset faded.
Today, a vial of insulin costs around $300, no matter what type of diabetes you have. That’s a price increase of over 1,000% – even taking inflation into consideration!
You might recall Alec Smith?
He was only 26 years old when he died – less than one month after he aged out of his mom’s health insurance.
He simply couldn’t afford to buy new insurance or pay $1000 a month for his insulin.
(And he couldn’t find a way to make the trip to Mexico for a six-month supply that might have set him back only $100 or so.) 🙁
This is the financial human price of insulin, and stories like this are making international headlines almost every day.
WAIT: Is there’s A Health Cost
To Insulin, Too??
The way taking insulin works is diabetics typically need 1-3 vials of the medication per month. At $300 per vial, the cost is $300-900 per month.
Again, this is for the average user.
And you’d think the cost would just be the cost and that would be it. Well…not so fast.
There are complex reasons why the cost gets so outrageous. So let’s look at a couple.
Health Cost #1: Getting The Right Dosage
Unfortunately, it can take YEARS to get the right dosage of insulin. Weight changes, other medications, simultaneous illness, and maturing age all have an effect on your insulin dosage.
On top of that, many diabetes sufferers discover that their problem wasn’t dosing, at all.
They find out they were allergic to their insulin the entire time! That leads to our second health cost.
Health Cost #2: Allergies To Insulin
Because it can take so long to get the right dosage of insulin, allergies to medications get covered up all the time.
And it’s not anyone’s fault. It’s just that some of the symptoms of a dosing mismatch and an allergy are the same.
Additionally, some of the less expensive brands of insulin are sold cheaper at Walmart and other chain retail stores.
Stores like that tend to offer older, rebranded, less-effective versions of the drug that many diabetics are allergic to.
Additionally, sometimes, people continue using drugs they are allergic to or that don’t work as effectively as needed out of financial necessity. It’s really bad
Unfortunately, I can’t go into everything here because it would be too long of an article you get the idea.
There can be crazy health costs to pay if you need insulin, and it’s not as easy as just going to your doctor and asking for a new prescription when you need it.
Getting the help you need in a timely manner all depends on your physician, your insurance provider, your copayment, whether or not you have met your deductible, and all sorts of other factors I couldn’t include here.
I read of a woman who was forced to pay almost $2800 a month for her insulin after everything was said and done – and it wasn’t even the brand she needed!
Never mind the fact that she was insured. There’s literally no workaround with these insurance companies for a disease that can take your life in moments.
Is The Price Of
Really That Big Of A Deal??
Yes it is…and here’s why. Right now, you could drive up to Canada and buy a vial of Humalog for around $38.
That exact, same vial in America will cost up to $329. There’s no way in the world that is right, morally.
There are people right now who are on the verge of losing everything they have just to afford to pay for their insulin through the end of this year.
Can you imagine living like that??
I can’t. And hopefully, I can raise awareness until all of us are so outraged at what is happening in our country that something changes.
If you want to get a lot more detail on the human cost of Insulin in America, stay tuned. This is a huge topic, and it’s not going away anytime soon!