America is Number 1 - in Diabetes Costs

America is Number 1 - in Diabetes Costs

Facebook Google LinkedIn Twitter

Everyone likes being #1, and Americans are no exception. However, few Americans will be celebrating that they have the world’s highest out of pocket costs for insulin and other life-saving diabetes supplies.

T1International Survey: Out-Of-Pocket Costs

Without accounting for average monthly income, the USA ‘won’ first place in our cost survey by a wide margin. It even ‘beat’ war-torn Syria, a place where access to diabetes supplies is disrupted by bombings and blockades.

Our US respondents told us they paid, on average, $571.69 per month on diabetes costs. This included an average:

  • $90.84 per vial on rapid-acting insulin
  • $120.55 per vial on long-acting insulin
  • $31.95 on one pod of 50 test strips
  • $30.47 on one pot of ketone strips
  • $81.67 on a glucagon emergency shot

Insurance Doesn’t Cut It

Even with insurance, many Americans are spending around half their after tax income on insulin and other supplies they need to stay alive: “Insurance helps but it is 9k a year for a 30k year salary.”

That is, when your insurance company allows you to get what you need. For many respondents, insurance companies actively stop them from getting more diabetes supplies. All of this has consequences.

“Insurance companies do not care if I use all of my insulin or strips before they can refill it for me. It puts me in a struggle of blood sugars versus insurance.”

The situation is so out of control many Americans with type 1 diabetes would save thousands by moving to a comparatively less wealthy country with lower costs, such as Argentina or Chile. Even in countries with no out of pocket drug coverage, such as Canada, type 1 diabetes costs were much more affordable.

“There are many times I can't afford my meds so I go without, even knowing it will kill me.”

The Press Can Do More

High profile media organizations have begun to take note, including CBS News, NBC Nightly News and the Washington Post. The major diabetes organizations are also finally acknowledging what Americans have known for a long time: diabetes costs are out control.

The consequences of these price hikes is death. This issue, which T1Internaitonal has been shouting about for years, needs to be covered more widely – and not just in the USA, but globally. People are dying without insulin in many countries around the world, and the USA is beginning to emulate those countries.

Talk to journalists: share your story and make them aware of the fact that this injustice is happening globally.

Tip: they often hang out on social media and are always in need of more content.

10 More Actions To Take Right Now

  1. If you are on Twitter, follow @T1International. We are on Facebook too! You can also follow vocal independent activists using the hashtag #insulin4all.
  2. Sign the T1International Access Charter and tell others to sign it too. There is strength in numbers and more signatures shows more power behind the #insulin4all movement!
  3. Know your rights. A person in need of medical care is protected by international law. Read more about that here.
  4. Organize, communicate and collaborate with people on the same page. If you want to take it to another level, the T1International Advocacy Toolkit is a great resource that will tell you how!
  5. Contact your local representatives. The American Diabetes Association has an easy form for you to be able to do this. You can also quickly dial (844)-673-7478 to tell Congress not to support the repeal of the Affordable Care Act. Hannah (@lollydaggle), has also created a good phone script, which is available here.
  6. Tell us if you have struggled. This month we will be sharing a series of blog posts related to affordability struggles that people in the USA with diabetes are facing. We want to hear from you, too.
  7. Be aware of the links between advocacy groups and the diabetes industry. Before you support a group ask if they take money from pharma or other forms of industry. If they do, ask them why, and explore how it might impact their advocacy work. Let their responses guide you whether you want to dedicate time or money to their cause. Read more here.
  8. Demand real action. Do not be content. Do not be placated. If a politician or company promises to improve the price situation that’s fine, but remember to hold them to account.
  9. Let us know which action you take by sending a message. We will share it, along with your stories on social media.
  10. Keep your eyes on our blog. We will be featuring more stories from people struggling with insulin costs in the USA this month.

Related posts:

Advocates meet for #insulin4all in New York City

Advocates meet for #insulin4all in New York City

More than a dozen people from all over the New York City metropolitan area gathered on February 8th at the historic LGBT Center on 13th Street in Manhattan to discuss insulin access issues in America. Read more

Taking a Stand at Eli Lilly Headquarters

Taking a Stand at Eli Lilly Headquarters

I joined dozens of people impacted by the rising cost of insulin in the USA in protest of those prices in front of Eli Lilly headquarters in Indianapolis, Indiana. Some had traveled many hours to join the protest, but one thing was made clear, we wanted to ensure that Eli Lilly heard our voices. We were passionate in our outcry for change and jointly understood that not saying anything is simply not an option.
Read more

The Cost of Chronic Illness

The Cost of Chronic Illness

I’ll start out by saying I consider myself lucky. Yes, you read that right. I consider myself fortunate to be in a country that’s consider to be progressive in technology and medical care. There are people in countries where electricity, consistent food supply and medications just don’t exist. For these people, the cost of chronic illness is too often immediate death. Read more

Uninsured with diabetes in the USA

Uninsured with diabetes in the USA

I have had times of desperation where I have used expired insulin, skipped some meals and diluted my insulin with water until I could afford to buy my next vial, but I am alive. I would like to suggest a few things to those who are possibly facing a future with no insurance... Read more

Patients vs. Pharma: Hagens Berman files complaint against 'Big Three' insulin producers

Patients vs. Pharma: Hagens Berman files complaint against 'Big Three' insulin producers

The law firm Hagens Berman has filed a complaint against Eli Lilly, Novo Nordisk, and Sanofi, the ‘big three’ pharmaceutical companies that hold a near-monopoly on the insulin market. People living with type 1 diabetes will be the plaintiffs in this class action lawsuit, which alleges that Eli Lilly, Novo Nordisk and Sanofi have unjustly inflated their prices. Read more

Interview: Open Insulin

Interview: Open Insulin

Currently we’re working on a novel method to produce human insulin, which is not patented, and as far as I know is not patentable. There are variations on normal human insulin to make them longer or shorter acting, which involve very small changes to the sequence that codes for human insulin... Read more