FRANKFORT, Ky. – In Canada, a vial of insulin costs $22—in America that same vial is over $300.
The astronomical cost of insulin in America and what Kentucky lawmakers can do to help the more than half a million Kentuckians dealing with the disease was the topic of the Interim Committee on Banking and Insurance in Frankfort today.
“Pricing insulin at such astronomical amounts is nothing short of premeditated murder,” Angela Summers, a Type 2 Diabetic told lawmakers.
The cost of insulin has nearly doubled over the past ten years.
“Today, the way insulin is priced in America has caused people with type 1 diabetes to again see that death is very much a reality,” said Angela Lautner, a Type 1 Diabetic and Chapter Leader of Kentucky #insulin4all.
The high cost of insulin makes diabetics make tough choices and decide to ration life-saving medicine.
“I could have a roof over my head or I could pay for my insulin. I could keep my lights on or I could pay for my insulin,” Summers said. “The stigma that goes along with being a type 2 diabetic makes even talking about it difficult. It makes reaching out for help paying for insulin nearly impossible. And so I bargained with myself. I’ll make one month’s worth of insulin last for 3 months or I’ll just get it next month, which turns to 6 months.”
Rationing her insulin for years cost Angela Summers her leg, but it could have cost her a lot more.
“Insulin has been made nearly impossible for a vast number of people to afford,” Summers said. “We can try the inferior insulin. We will get inferior results. I’m proof. And I’m one of the lucky ones; I have not lost my life yet.”
Summers and Lautner are demanding state lawmakers do something about the astronomical cost of insulin.
“Since my diagnosis of type 1 diabetes, I’ve watched the copays and price I pay for insulin climb without restriction and transparency,” Lautner said. “For many years, I just thought that’s the way it is, there’s nothing I can do about it. I was wrong.”
Lautner urged lawmakers to do three things in the upcoming session.
- Pass an insulin price transparency bill that seeks answers from across the entire insulin supply chain to explain each entity’s part in the rising cost of insulin.
- Pass BR 105, sponsored by Rep. Danny Bentley, R-Russell, which places a $100 cap on copays for some Kentuckians covered under insurance plans purchased in the marketplace.
- Seek a path to ensure all type 1 diabetics have access to affordable insulin
Lautner says it’s a matter of life or death.
“This issue cannot wait through another year. Incrementalism is not the answer,” Lautner said. “Waiting only means that we will be back here again telling you more Kentuckians have died when they should be alive and thriving.”