Capping Insulin Costs: Band-Aiding a Much Bigger Issue

By Alyssa Earnest, Staff Editor

The U.S. Senate has passed the Inflation Reduction Act, which allows Medicare to negotiate with pharmaceutical companies about insulin prices. Starting in 2023, insulin will be capped at $35 per month. The catch? This only applies to people who are eligible to have Medicare. Everyone else must proceed to pay what insurance companies charge – a.k.a. too much.

While lowering the cost of insulin for those on Medicare – which consists mainly of the elderly – is a step in the right direction, it feels more like a shuffle than a step itself. As a Type-1 diabetic since 2006, I cannot live without insulin. I am fortunate enough to have insurance to afford my insulin and other medications, but not all are as lucky. According to GoodRx, the insulin price has gone up since 2014 from 22 cents per unit to 31 cents per unit. While this may not seem like much, the average insulin vial holds 1,000 units. This would be an average of around $310 per bottle. There are countless stories of people having to ration their insulin in order to be able to afford the next vial.

An example of the many hardships of having supply issues to go through is what happened to me back in late August. Ordering new insulin pump supplies was a routine event, and all was going well until my supplies didn’t arrive on the day they were supposed to. I tried to call the supply company to figure out what happened, but due to heat waves, the phones went down, and I couldn’t reach them. I was running out of supplies and had no way to order replacements. Thankfully the phones came back online a couple of days later, and I was able to order more, but the panic of not knowing how I was going to get my life-saving medication was horrible.

Diabetics face all sorts of issues accessing their prescriptions. What’s worse is that it’s expected for insurance companies to not care about your situation and only give you the absolute bare minimum for the month. Yes, placing a cap on Medicare insulin costs is great, but it’s akin to putting a single Band-Aid over a gunshot wound – it won’t do much. The issue needs to be tackled as a whole, not in pieces. Do better.