Drug companies lowered the price of insulin, a life-saving prescription used to treat diabetes, to the delight of millions of Americans.
The cost of treating the illness, which causes high blood sugar levels that can harm the heart, eyes, and kidneys if left untreated, is still greater than those lower prices, which came as a result of government pressure to cap insulin costs and increased competition from generic and biosimilar drugs.
The majority of a patient’s expenses may be incurred by over-the-counter medical products used to give medicine and monitor glucose levels. Children and adults with private health insurance spend more money out of pocket on diabetes-related products than on insulin, according to a 2020 JAMA Internal Medicine study.
“We’re delighted that insulin prices are capped, and people are paying more attention, but that really just tells part of the narrative of individuals living with diabetes,” said Dr. Karla Robinson, medical editor at GoodRx, a website that assists users in finding the lowest prescription prices nearby.
More than insulin, the price of supplies “has a considerably greater impact on people. The cost of the materials may even influence the type of treatment they choose.
How many people are impacted by the cost of supplies?
About 8 million of the 37 million Americans with diabetes need insulin, but every one of them must keep an eye on their blood sugar levels. 100 million more pre-diabetic adults should be considered, who might also require test supplies.
Diabetes comes in two varieties:
Type 1, which is totally dependent on insulin.
Type 2, which may or may not require insulin since it is treatable with oral drugs, dietary changes, and lifestyle adjustments.
They both need to monitor their sugar in some way, which is one thing they both have in common, according to Robinson. “This is a significant problem since many people who never need insulin are affected.”
How much might supplies run you?
If they have insurance, a diabetic who needs insulin typically pays $4,882 per year for medical care. According to a GoodRx research, of that, $3,992 is spent on supplies, or more than 80% of the annual cost of managing the disease.