The author of a recent column in the Star Tribune urged legislators to help raise public awareness regarding assistance that is available for diabetes patients in need of insulin. With that in mind, here is some information about existing options that could help mitigate high costs people face that lead to rationing or make insulin altogether unaffordable.
Of course, people are advised to start by consulting their diabetes care team. Health care providers may be able to manage short-term gaps with samples or help safely transition to lower-cost insulins.
There also are manufacturer programs available where uninsured and underinsured Minnesotans can access insulin at greatly reduced prices or even for free. Larry Smith, president of the National Diabetes Volunteer Leadership Council and author of the column, indicates these programs can help cut insulin costs for Minnesotans from thousands of dollars to less than $100 per month. The NDVLC has more information at this link.
Mr. Smith points out that MinnesotaCare enrollment information is especially valuable to people with diabetes now that Medica (and now UCare) announced they will cap out-of-pocket insulin costs for MNsure plans at $25 per month beginning in 2020. Click here for information regarding MinnesotaCare. People also are urged to see what assistance may be available through Medicaid at this link.
The Star Tribune column also notes low- or no-cost insulin is available through Minnesota’s network of community hospitals and clinics, via a federal program for safety net providers who can offer reduced costs to eligible Minnesotans using their pharmacies.
People also can look into free discount programs such as GoodRx, Inside Rx and Blink Health to see what’s available. Mr Smith says authorized generic analog insulin is available in Minnesota for about $68 a vial using a free coupon from GoodRx, a significant savings compared with the original brand’s retail price. He goes on to note that Walmart sells human insulin without a prescription for about $25 per vial. While they may not be right for everyone, these products have helped generations of people with diabetes through emergencies as well as ongoing management. People with diabetes who are unfamiliar with human insulin products should seek medical guidance to use them safely.
While there may not be a silver bullet to address each and everyone’s unique circumstances, I hope people struggling with access to insulin will look into these and other resources that are available today as the search for long-term solutions continues in St. Paul. It’s important to be our own best advocates on health care and, as noted in the column, people with diabetes who are unfamiliar with human insulin products should seek medical guidance to use them safely. Severe complications (even death) can result from improper use of insulin, so always consult a professional before administering this or any other drug.
If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to me and I will help as I am able.