There was an Aug. 15 op-ed in the Star Tribune where the author, Larry Smith of the National Diabetes Volunteer Leadership Council, urged legislators to make sure their constituents know the avenues that are currently available for people having difficulty accessing insulin.
This subject has become an increasing topic of discussion of late and likely will remain so as we work for solutions as a state. That said, people in some cases may require more urgency and we can do more to heighten public awareness regarding resources that are available to citizens struggling to obtrain insulin. In his column, Mr. Smith asked legislators to share some of those program details that could help people and I hope this email provides some valuable information.
But, before we get to those resources, I want to remind people that the best place to start is by consulting their diabetes care team/health care professionals. Aside from your sheer safety, health care providers may be able to manage short-term gaps with samples or help safely transition to lower-cost insulins.
Manufacturer programs also are available and, through them, uninsured and underinsured Minnesotans can access insulin at greatly reduced prices or even for free. Mr. Smith reports 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 also indicates that MinnesotaCare enrollment information is especially valuable to people with diabetes since 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. You also may want to to see what assistance may be available through Medicaid at this link.
Minnesota’s network of community hospitals and clinics also may be able to provide low or no-cost insulin, the column reports, through a federal program where safety net providers can offer reduced costs to eligible Minnesotans using their pharmacies.
Discount programs such as GoodRx, Inside Rx and Blink Health also are worth shopping 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. Furthermore, Mr. Smith notes 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 one single solution to cover each and everyone’s particular circumstances, I hope people who are struggling with access to insulin will consider today’s options as we continue working on those long-term solutions. Please let me know if you need further assistance and, again, please seek medical guidance to protect your safety.