Insulin Prices: When You Can’t Afford to Stay Alive

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A few days ago in Facebook, I posted a link to an article about the rising costs of EpiPens. A T1 friend of mine commented that link that she is pretty much “done” because of the price of insulin. Yesterday, several people posted an article about the rising costs of insulin. My friend shared that link and stated that she can’t afford to stay alive. I told her to promise me that she would go to the hospital when she runs out of insulin.

She sent me a PM that I am sharing here:

Kelly, my life is basically over. I’m coming up on my first bday with out my mom. I have no family. No friends here. I work a job helping others and get shit on for it. I’m not saying I am suicidal, I’m saying I am exhausted, tired, burnt out. I get no help. I never thought that I would be in this position with my insulin. I was the earliest person who went on a insulin pump. I was also the earliest to be put on Humalog when it came out. Nobody in the doc cares. You have a blog, so you have a voice. I’ve talked with people on line about shaking the doc and insulin companies awake and nobody wants to do so, they told me that they are more at ease with begin complacent and apathetic. How sad.

My friend has a job with insurance. However, she has a very high deductible and has to pay 100% of the cost until she meets the deductible. She is out of money and her doctor doesn’t have any samples to give her. I know samples seem to be drying up – my doctor isn’t getting them anymore either. Because she is working, she makes too much money to qualify for any of the prescription assistance programs. She was an only child and both of her parents have died. She has no family to help her.

She is well aware that she can go to WalMart and buy NPH and Regular insulin. The problem with that option is that because of the nature of her job, if she starts having a ton of lows, she will lose her job. If she loses her job, she won’t have the money to buy the “cheap” insulin.

She has been diabetic for over 40 years and is complication free. She is literally up sh*t creek without a paddle.

Even though I told her to go to the hospital, that certainly is not a long-term plan. She needs insulin on a daily basis to stay alive. Since the price for insulin has skyrocketed, will the hospital send her home with enough to last for a month? If she has to go to the hospital on a daily basis to get insulin, she will lose her job. Technically, the hospital has to help her but we have all heard the stories of people dying in the waiting room because of sitting there for hours.

We aren’t some third world country that doesn’t have access to drugs and medical care. Why are people dying because the evil pharmaceutical companies want to keep upping their bottom line. We are not talking some brand new drug that she needs access to. Humalog came out in 1996; Novolog in 2000, Apidra in 2004; Lantus in 2000 and Levemir in 2005. Every one of those have been on the market for at least 10 years. And I don’t buy the “they are working on new drugs” crap. Yes, it would be nice to have better insulins but NOT if the price is to kill off all the people that can’t afford to pay the extravagant prices of the current insulins.

I saw the EpiPen article in an allergy group. One woman said that she went to get her daughter’s prescription filled. She has insurance but it won’t cover EpiPens. When it rang up as $400, she questioned the price because the month before, it was $200 for her other daughter’s prescription. The pharmacist was going to look into it and she said that she would come back the next day to get it. The price went up another $200 and she had to pay $600.

Obviously, having insurance doesn’t mean that you will get the basic care that you need to stay alive. No one should have to face death because they don’t have the money to buy a drug that has kept them alive for over 40 years and now is out of reach. There are at least two drugs (insulin and EpiPens) that are now out of reach for a lot of people. Where do we draw the line? How many people have to die before we do something?

Comments

  1. Right on! Thank you!

  2. Kelly … I emailed you. I reached out to my D friends and have arranged for some Humalog to be sent. I just need her most recent address.

    I can’t send any myself right now because I will be uninsured until at least January. In June, my insurance was retroactively cancelled to April.

  3. So – this is enough to make me and I’m sure others, cry. Nice of Doris to do that. I think any of us will help. Just need to know what’s needed.

  4. Perhaps, try the A.D.A. ? MIGHT give her some assist; really have NO idea. It is INSANITY!!!!!! Have problems being able to afford all my supplies as well. But, have Brothers that help if needed. GOD BLESS THEM!!!! Uhh, may have to … retire…get disabled…?? Something for consideration I guess. Very sorry.

    • Thanks Alice. I will pass the ADA suggestion along to her. Disability is out because you have to be disabled for 6 months without income coming in. She doesn’t have family to help during the period.

  5. Patty Caywood says:

    This is a great conversation. I am also a diabetic. And I just survived major surgery (the whipple) to remove a cancer tumor on my pancreas. I was lucky it was caught before it was inoperable.

    I have worked all my life. Raised 3 children alone. I worked and made good money and always had excellent insurance so my children and I didn’t have to worry about that part. Until I lost my job in late September 2015. My insurance was cancelled the same day. I started the Health Care . Gov insurance in December, that is when my cancer was found. Blessing here is I lost my regular doctors but they were not finding out what was wrong with me. New doctors did. Surgery February 23rd this year. Horrible surgery…long recovery…but I’m getting better. I started Chemo in March.

    I turn 65 in September and I have to end the Health Care .Gov insurance because I will be insured by Medicare. Medicare is no help at all really until you are in the hospital. For doctor care and treatments you must buy a supplement medical policy and a prescription drug policy. I checked that out and it would take about $400 a month. No Way. So I looked into the Medicare Advantage Plans which cover both med. and RX. The plan I needed required I get Medicade. Well I thought surely I could get that. I only qualified for the lowest level and all it covers is the $126.00 per month Medicare charges for your Medical A and B parts. Which is certainly good, but not the help I need.

    On Social Security and that is all the income I have, I get 1278.00 per month. After Rent, Utilities, the car and insurance, and my one luxury, internet service. I don’t have TV. After paying for that and $186 that 2 of my children give me to help me out, I have 326.00 left for groceries, gasoline, and necessities.

    On the insurance plan I had to choose..2nd to the good one, I pay $40 copay for my chemo visits…and 20% of the treatment. It will be around $150 to $200 each time I go and I go every other Friday. In addition I said I’m diabetic.. I’m on 2 insulins… Lantus and Novolog pins. one is $1600 for a month and the other is $980 for a month…I have to pay 20% of that.

    You can see that $326 won’t cover any of this, and I also take blood pressure pills, a vascular dilator for PAD, an anti depressant (Imagine that!), and Pancreas enzymes which I will need for the rest of my life because there is so little pancreas left. and a pill to protect my stomach which it needs because of the enzymes. oh and a thyroid pill.

    I just had a CAT scan today…this and my chemo Friday…are the last that will be on my old insurance which cancels Aug 31st at midnight, the new insurance starts Sept 1. I have no way out of this. So Friday when I see the chemo doctor I have to tell him I can’t come back.

    I don’t know how life will be without the enzymes to help me digest food and without insulin I will have very high glucose. So yes I see this ending very badly.

    I know there are many out there in this exact situation… Our country and it’s concept of values and morals have fallen so low. People do not matter. Only Money matters. My life is worth something, I have reasons to keep living. My family isn’t able to shoulder all this financial responsibility. I’m really at my wits ends.

    I came on the internet to type in..’I can’t afford my cancer treatments’ and found this article. I am going to keep looking for help, but I can’t imagine trying to juggle all the different agencies to keep help coming. Like Kelly, I am not suicidal, quite the opposite. I want to live…but I’m so stressed and it’s hurting my body, I’m tired – chemo has me beaten down, I’m trying to keep hope alive – but there is no light at the end of the tunnel.

    Thanks for listening, sometimes you just need to get it out and on a piece of paper so to speak. I hope all of you find your solutions….
    Patty

    • Patty thanks for sharing your story. I sent a email to my senator, and was encouraged to have others do the same. We need to raise our voices, and stop this insanity. We need to let the drug companies know we are not going to lay down and take it.

  6. Patty, I do hope that you find light at the end of the tunnel. I agree your life is worth something. It sad that this country has fallen so low. As I kid, I believed we were the greatest country on earth. I no longer believe that. Like you said, money is all that seems to matter.

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