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As Prices Rise, More KY Diabetics Unable to Afford Insulin

Every year, an estimated 27,000 Kentuckians are diagnosed with diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association. (Adobe Stock)
Every year, an estimated 27,000 Kentuckians are diagnosed with diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association. (Adobe Stock)
September 3, 2019

FRANKFORT, Ky. — The cost of insulin is skyrocketing, and health-care advocates want Kentucky lawmakers to take action to stop it. According to the American Diabetes Association, the list price of insulin has jumped by 64% since 2014.

In August, Louisville resident Angie Summers told the state's Interim Joint Committee on Banking and Insurance that she's had to self-ration the insulin needed for her Type 2 diabetes, or go without.

"A lot of times for me, that made it easier for me to put it on the back burner - you know, that made it easier for me to say, 'Well, I have to make rent, so insulin's going to have to wait,’” Summers said.

More than a half-million Kentuckians live with diabetes - just over 15% of the state's adult population. Earlier this year, state Attorney General Andy Beshear filed lawsuits against the world's three largest insulin manufacturers over rising drug prices.

House Bill 502, introduced in the last legislative session by Republican Rep. Danny Bentley of Russell, would require drug manufacturers to be more transparent about insulin pricing. Summers said she thinks that's a good start.

"I think the first step is we have to demand transparency,” she said. “I think the second step is that we have to agree that there has to be a cap on those co-pays."

In May, Colorado became the first state in the country to set a $100 cap on insurance co-pay amounts for insulin.

Summers said if she were to take the insulin she needs, even with insurance, it would cost her about $800 per month.

"I didn't want to say anything to anybody, because I was ashamed that I had Type 2 diabetes to begin with,” Summers said. “And then, there was the shame of not being able to afford medication."

But she isn't alone. An American Diabetes Association survey found many people who face high out-of-pocket costs for insulin are forced to either ration or forgo their medication in order to reduce costs.

Nadia Ramlagan, Public News Service - KY