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America is Number 1 - in Diabetes Costs

America is Number 1 - in Diabetes Costs

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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.