am no economist – and cannot state the economic reason that insulin costs have jumped so dramatically. However, I can state that patients are having a hard time covering their co-pays, providers are looking for less expensive options and some folks are choosing to limit their use of insulin in an effort to save money.
I do believe we are quick to jump on the insulin producing companies (note: two out of three companies are not headquartered in the US) for dramatically increasing prices to achieve high profits. However, in discussing this with economists, their profits have NOT jumped with the pricing. There are caps in many countries on how much can be charged, leaving the countries without those government caps to make up the difference. For example, if you were making dresses to sell all around the world, and every place you sold them you were losing money, somewhere, you would have to make up for that or you would have to go out of business.
In our own country there are government contracts, as well as insurance companies, that limit the amount reimbursed to the pharmaceutical company – once again leaving others to make up the difference. Insurance companies are shifting more of the costs to consumers as they attempt to keep down overall prices, while serving persons who are encumbered with a chronic disease but were not a part of the insurance pool prior to their diagnosis.
In working with (not against) companies, perhaps we can help to find a way to help our patients receive this lifesaving medication at an affordable cost, and maintain the economic health of the industry.
We need to recognize that we welcome the help from insulin companies to provide patient assistance to those in need, samples to help our patient get through hard times, support for children’s diabetes camps in the form of insulin donations, personnel to help at camp, printed patient educational materials, support for our state and national meetings, and speakers from around the world to keep us up to date on research. Having been to many third world countries for medical work, I am truly thankful as well for the insulin that is provided free of charge to individuals around the globe, where there is neither medical insurance nor government support for providing individuals who need insulin with products.
I am not suggesting that we as providers and educators should stand back and watch our patient not have the best of care, but I think we need to be more informed about why these changes have occurred, while continuing to be advocates for our patient. Insulin is a requirement for many, not an option. In working with (not against) companies, perhaps we can help to find a way to help our patients receive this lifesaving medication at an affordable cost, and maintain the economic health of the industry.
About the Author:
Carla Cox is a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator. She has been a certified diabetes educator for over 25 years, and served as an assistant adjunct professor for 14 years, teaching in areas of sports nutrition and exercise physiology. Currently she works in Missoula, Montana as a diabetes educator in both in- and outpatient settings.