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Can Congress do anything to fix insulin prices?

Diabetes Screening
Posted at 5:00 AM, Jan 13, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-13 07:08:46-05

Kathy Sego knows the frustration of paying hundreds of dollars a month for insulin.

Her 25-year-old son, Hunter, has diabetes. The average cost of a vial of his insulin is around $350.

"When Hunter started getting insulin, it was anywhere from $90-100 a vial," Sego said.

Nationwide, the price of insulin has more than tripled over the last 20 years.

Sego's son needs at least three vials per month. The money for the insulin comes out of her wallet until they meet their insurance deductible. Sego sets aside $800 a month from her salary to pay for the insulin. She also uses her vacation time to go to countries where insulin is cheaper.

"We took a trip to Canada," she said.

When her son realized how expensive insulin was a few years ago, he tried to ration it, endangering his health.

"He felt so guilty for the cost of him to live," Sego said.

ADDRESSING THE COST 

The high cost of insulin isn't necessarily new, but limiting costs is a relatively new priority. Twenty states and the District of Columbia have taken action to cap the cost of insulin in recent years.

Colorado was the first state to cap out-of-pocket costs at $100 per month.

Sego lives in Indiana, which has no such law. That's why she wants Congress to step in.

STALLED EFFORT

There was a federal effort to cap insulin prices in the Build Back Better bill — a social spending package championed by President Joe Biden — but that legislation has stalled.

"We have done a lot of outreach to members of Congress," said Lisa Murdock, who is with the American Diabetes Association.

Murdock says insulin users shouldn't lose hope. The plan to cap insulin costs at $35 a month nationwide is still being negotiated. She still believes it could pass this year.

"The American Diabetes Association has generated over 21,000 outreaches to Congress through the last month," Murdock said.

As for Sego, she hopes something changes soon. Meanwhile, she is planning her next international trip.

"We need to figure out when we can get over the border," she said.