Government, Health - A Cap On Insulin Prices
Lawmakers in the middle US state of Illinois approved a plan to combat the insulin crisis plaguing the US, by setting a cap on the maximum price a patient pays.
Type 1 Diabetes is a manageable disease with an increasingly unmanageable cost in America's for-profit healthcare system. Earlier this year, the US House Committee on Oversight Government Reform issued a report (.pdf link) found uninsured Americans pay as much as 23 times more for certain diabetes drugs than they would in Australia.
State Representative Will Guzzardi, a Chicago Democrat, says his measure caps monthly out-of-pocket costs at US$100, or about $145.00 Australian. It applies to state-regulated commercial insurance companies. The plan now goes back to the State Senate where a similar plan already passed. Once the differences are ironed out, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzger says he will sign it.
The news and social media are rife with verified horror stories of diabetic Americans young and old dying because they can't afford the insulin their doctors prescribed. Often, the patients lose their job, and with it their healthcare coverage because it is through employers that most Americans get their healthcare coverage. One of the benefits of the Affordable Care Act, or "Obamacare", is that families can keep children on the family healthcare plan until the age of 25. But young people who age out of that while remaining underemployed - hence, no healthcare coverage - are faced with massive out-of-pocket costs for their insulin.
That easily reaches into thousands of dollars per month, which is completely out of the question for many people. One in four diabetes patients have been forced to ration their insulin, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, and some have died because of it. Others have been forced to switch to a lower cost, older version of insulin which does not work as quickly as the new standard and doesn't even out blood sugar spikes and dips as well. And still others have been forced to travel to Mexico or Canada where insulin is available at a cheaper prince than in the US.