Some People Are Paying Up to $600 a Month for Insulin. Senate Democrats Want to Cap It at $35.

Insulin costs more in the United States than other countries, and soaring prices have been the life-saving medicine out of reach for mean dealing with diabetes complications.

By Sarah Ovaska

March 8, 2022

North Carolina’s million diabetics have seen insulin prices equal to monthly car payments. A federal bill would lower costs significantly.

With insulin costs surging as high as $350 to $600 for a 40-day supply, US Senate Democrats are reviving efforts to cap the cost of the life-preserving medicine.

The $35 cap proposal would potentially impact millions of diabetic Americans and North Carolinians, some of whom might be skipping the medicine because of the cost. One out of four diabetes patients rationed their insulin because of the soaring costs, a Yale University study found. 

Nearly half of North Carolinians either have diabetes, or are considered pre-diabetic and at risk of developing the chronic condition that leaves the body unable to produce enough insulin to process glucose, a type of sugar, in the blood. 

Uncontrolled diabetes can have catastrophic effects for people, with risks of vision and hearing loss, heart and kidney disease, and other complications.  

The proposed $35 monthly cap on insulin was initially part of President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better plan, an expansive piece of legislation that attempted to shore up health care, childcare and other support for American families before running into resistance late last year from US Senate Republicans.

Biden expressed his support for a cap on insulin costs during his State of the Union address last week, mentioning a 13-year-old Virginia boy with Type 1 diabetes and the boy’s mother who were invited to the speech.

“Imagine what it’s like to look at your child who needs insulin and have no idea how you’re going to pay for it. What it does to your dignity,” Biden said.  

Now, Georgia’s US Sen. Raphael Warnock, a Democrat, introduced a standalone bill last month that would cap insulin costs at $35 for those on Medicare or on private insurance plans.

The proposal is popular, with one poll finding nearly 80% of Americans in favor of keeping costs low.

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