Letter: Keep prices low for insulin products
While I’m with AARP in supporting more comprehensive efforts, making insulin more affordable is something legislators can do this session.
In 2020, when AARP asked 50+ voters about prescription drug prices, 60% said prices are unreasonable. Many said they have or will need to make tradeoffs to afford medications.
That’s especially common for the 58,335 North Dakotans who have diabetes. And if that number doesn’t catch your attention, according to the 2022 North Dakota Diabetes Report, 16,281 adults had undiagnosed diabetes and another 177,618 had pre-diabetes. The fastest growing diabetic age group is age 45-50. This disease is getting more expensive as our population ages.
I’m retired and diabetic. Recently my insurer stopped covering my continuous insulin pump supplies and now I order them through the mail and pay out of pocket. I hear stories about people struggling to afford insulin. People who’ve retired but have to start working again, people who ration their insulin – risking their lives – because they can’t afford their medication and rent/utilities.
I’m happy that at the national level, Medicare now caps 30-day supplies of insulin at $35. I’m also pleased some big drug companies are putting a cap on some insulin products. But that doesn’t mean the state doesn’t play a part in this battle.
Of those 58,335 North Dakotans with diabetes, 2,843 with Medicare Part D are seeing their insulin costs drop to $35/month under the new law. Many more need help, and not all diabetics use the insulin brands affected by the limited action from drug companies. The rest often carry an overwhelming financial burden, and even when insured like I am, may suffer from inconsistent coverage that makes insulin costly.
While I’m with AARP in supporting more comprehensive efforts, making insulin more affordable is something legislators can do this session. Senate Bill 2140 would cap the price of a 30-day supply of insulin for state employees at $25. Co-payments for related medical supplies, including glucose meters, insulin needles and syringes, would be capped at $25 per 30 days. The bill then directs the PERS Board to study the impacts and bring forward a bill in 2025 to apply this cap to everyone.
Medications don’t work if you can’t afford them. That’s why I am actively engaged in AARP’s fight to make sure every American can afford the prescriptions they need to stay healthy. That’s why I will be asking legislators to support SB 2140. You should, too.