CLEVELAND — Imagine needing a medical treatment to stay alive, but you can’t maintain it because of the costs. Millions don’t have to imagine. They live that every day because they need insulin, of all things.
“I can’t live without it. So, you’re going to pay what you have to pay,” said David Moss, a 50-year-old living with diabetes from Broadview Heights. “If I wasn’t insured the way I am now, I would definitely go get my insulin in another country."
His family has done that. “I have cousins that were going over the border (to Canada) to buy insulin illegally,” Moss said.
COSTS HAVE SOARED
All of this is because the insulin costs passed along to patients have jumped significantly. Good Rx just released a study showing from 2014-2019 there was a 47% increase on insulin. Insulin is not something new or experimental so, why the increase?
“Actually getting a handle on what the price of insulin is, is not straightforward,”said Sherry Glied. She is the Dean of the Graduate School of Public Service at New York University. She co-authored a recent report for The Commonwealth Fund that shows there are so many levels to the distribution of insulin in our country.
“Most of the increase in the costs is not because the manufacturers are making so much money,” said Glied. “It’s because all the way down that chain people are making money and making deals that work to the disadvantage of people with diabetes.”
CHILDREN ARE DYING IN OHIO
That disadvantage has led to children dying right here in Ohio.
“Frequently-missed insulin doses [by Americans are] because of the outrageous cost. That’s why my daughter passed away. We couldn’t afford it,” said Antoinette Worsham from the Cincinnati area. She participated in a recent Ohio Senate Health and Human Services Committee hearing about Diabetes awareness.
Mindi Patterson testified that her sister-in-law tried to stretch her insulin supply. “[She] passed away due to cardiac arrest which was brought on from her rationing her insulin,” said Patterson.
CAPPING INSULIN COSTS IN OHIO?
“We can’t allow this to continue,” said Senator Nickie Antonio from Lakewood. She was there for the testimony and listened to the insulin issues. She told us she will introduce a bill later this year that caps patients’ insulin costs at $100 per month. “What it will mean is the difference between life and death for some people,” said Antonio.
The Diatribe Foundation reported eight states so far limit insulin costs and five more states are considering it as we speak. “I don’t want any other family to go through the things that we have gone through,” said Patterson during the hearing.
Moss knows that feeling. At one point, he had to switch insurance plans and was shocked by the $750 price tag for just three veils of insulin.
“You feel really…like ‘What the heck!’ Here we are in the United States, and I’m not sure how I’m going to afford this,” said Moss.
He is now on a pump system for his diabetes and said the retail price for his supplies is more than $5,000 for 2-3 months of treatment.
If you are experiencing problems with prescription pricing, here’s your chance to reach out to 5 On Your Side Investigators. Email the team at: InvestigatorTips@WEWS.com