The Cost Of Staying Alive

I’ve got the $400 a year. Not everyone does. This is the 21st Century version of being nickel and dimed to death… literally, not figuratively.

Lantus Solostar. I shoot 26 units of this 300 unit pen every day.

I am insured on a Medicare Advantage Plan. I pay for Medicare, but the additional “Advantage” coverage from Blue Shield of California is free to me.

For 2018 they changed their formulary, the list of drugs covered. It’s really got me upset. $400 a year they used to pay for insulin I now pay.

This is a drug I’ll probably be taking until the end of time!

A little background first. My cancer is gone, but there is collateral damage. Whipple surgery removed half my pancreas and left me with Type 2 diabetes.

It’s easily treatable. I take a pill and shoot insulin every day¹. My blood sugar levels (which I check every morning) are in the range I want.

My insulin, Lantus, was a Tier 1 drug, meaning minimal cost. As of January 1 it’s Tier 3. Now it’s $100 every 90 days.

I’ve got the $400 a year. Not everyone does. This is the 21st Century version of being nickel and dimed to death… literally, not figuratively.

“This is why some people have to choose between medicine and food,” Helaine noted.

You would figure insulin, which has been around since the 1920s, would be off patent and cheap. Guess again.

A generic version of insulin, the lifesaving diabetes drug used by 6 million people in the United States, has never been available in this country because drug companies have made incremental improvements that kept insulin under patent from 1923 to 2014. As a result, say two Johns Hopkins internist-researchers, many who need insulin to control diabetes can’t afford it, and some end up hospitalized with life-threatening complications, such as kidney failure and diabetic coma. – Johns Hopkins Medicine

So, the system gets gamed and people who are too ‘rich’ for assistance but too poor to have this extra cash lying around suffer.

Left untreated diabetes will kill you a little bit at a time. Fingers, toes, limbs, eyesight — it’s a shitty disease. No one who needs insulin should be deprived. Insulin is not an option.

We need to find a way to rein in prescription costs, meaning we need laws. That a system exists today which allows drug companies to do this hanky panky is reprehensible. Must every business decision in life and death drugs be totally profit driven?

It’s time for insurance for all, just as we have education, police and fire protection for all. This is what modern nations do in 2018.

¹ – This is not like the shot you get at the doctor’s office. It only needs break the skin, not find a vein. I use needles so tiny, some nights I don’t feel it going in!

14 thoughts on “The Cost Of Staying Alive”

  1. Geoff, you are absolutely correct in what you say!! It’s the same as me being on Xaralto for AFib.
    However, this year I switched to Humana, 0 copay in CT, I don’t know how that happened but I went for it and I can still use WalMart in Wallingford for my drugs. I now pay $8.00 for a 90 day supply. That is fine with me. I have had no side effects from the drug and the Cardiologist is happy. I bruise easily and bleed from my kitty scratches but she will outgrow that. My late Husband was on Lantus too, I know we
    had copays but don’t remember how much. Then they put him on Hospice and I didn’t have to pay copays any longer. Crazy how it works. We should have Universal Health Care, for FREE!

  2. The health care system in this country is nothing more than a pyramid scheme to line the corporate pockets of the industry. That has been obvious for many, many years.

    Healthcare, shelter, nourishment, and education should be basic rights of every human being.

  3. I’ve been taking insulin for 54 years as of today _ January 13, 1964: Type 1. (I’m your age, Geoff). And the cost of insulin has risen dramatically in the last 10 years. Add to insulin the cost of prophylactic drugs to help prevent complications and a bout of breast cancer which requires at least 5 years (or maybe 10 years) of Tamoxifen, another expensive drug.
    We are not on bad shape, my husband is still working. But I wonder if the cost of drugs and Medical care keeps rising at this rate, will I have to find work (again) in my mid or late 70s?

  4. Hi Geoff, I have type 2 diabetes and so far I am taking pills which I take two kinds: mornings it’s glipiside and evening begins with a f.. Can’t remember the name yet. First one I pay $3+ and evening one is $8+ u too I reach my cap then I pay nothing for the rest of the year! I do not know anything more as of right now. When March rolls around it could cost a lot more. If that happen In one of the out of luck people!

  5. Geoff
    The greed in this industry is boundless. There are chemically based CURES for more than a few of the blights that kill humans, cancer, diabetes, hypertension, and more. You will never hear of or see these compounds, as big Pharma stands to lose hundreds of billions of dollars in sales year after year of those maintenance medications if the existence of the cures is revealed. Very sad.
    Dave Neto

  6. The cost of insulin is very expensive. My youngest son was 11 when Dx JD. My niece was age 3. No matter what kind of ins. You have Diabetes is very expensive. Between the insulin. The test strips. Whether you have needle or pumps or any other lifesaving device they come out with. Not to mention price of epi pens. I have been righting to WH since P Reagan and the answer is all the same. Ins companies are a business..they need to make money for research. I know this. But it sure would help if they could pay some of the cost. The only ones I know receive at no cost. Are SOME of our Vets(NPROBLEM THERE) but adults who are able to work but stay in the system of most states. Get all their meds at no cost. I do agree with the gov of Kentucky. Every able body should work for their checks. They would be healthier also. Ok rant over. I also am lung cancer free and very thankful for every breath I take. God Bless you and your family

  7. Look at who OUR president wants to be in charge of HHS. A former pharmaceutical Co. executive and lobbyist. Doesn’t look like it will get any better. God help US and the U.S.A.

  8. Geoff, glad to see you’re on this bandwagon. I live in CT & was happy to see you last summer. Miss you. Your replacement is not to my liking. Switch to Ch. 3 for the weather when he’s on. Re: health care. Must vote in progressives at midterms and dump GOP. Health care is a RIGHT and the for profit health industry in the US is a disaster. #67 according to the World Health Organization. This is below 3rd world countries such as Cuba where health care is free. France is #1 in case you’re interested. Bernie Sanders is leading this movement. Jump aboard!!

  9. I also have type 2 diabetes. I also have psoriatic arthritis. I used to receive tramadol for pain but, since the government decided it is now a scheduled drug, I cannot take it. My question is this…If a person has a life altering disease with no cure and they’re in chronic pain that can be unbearable, why can’t the doctors prescribe this medicine? I am very aware of the opiate epidemic, but, this medication was never considered to be as dangerous as others. Do I want to take medication? I never took meds until I was 28 years old and they started me on medication for my depression. By the time I was 38, I was put on more meds for the psoriatic arthritis. I was diagnosed with diabetes a 1 and 1/2 ago. For some people, the pain med is needed. I am not an addict. I have personal experience with addictions and what they can do to a family. I understand why the medical community is so careful with what they prescribe……I want relief so that I can move around.

  10. I’m a bad type 2, as I take 1000mg metaformin twice, novolog thrice and a insulin that begins with a “B” ’cause my insurance will now not cover lantus as it was deemed to be too expensive. Co-pays have gone up for my regular meds but if I told you what my co-pay was for my insulin/pills/etc., people here (including you) would become extremely upset.

    I’m fortunate that this insidious disease has skipped my children (so far), but I am worried about the next generation that will eventually crop up.

  11. Geoff,
    My husband has Type 1 Diabetes.. He was diagnosed at the ripe old age of 21.
    He takes 2 kinds of insulin, short acting (just like it sounds, take it when you eat) and long acting (time released) that is your ‘basal’ or ‘base’ to cover you during the day….
    He is now on my insurance, so we haven’t had the joy of finding out the cost of his Humalog.
    His long term insulin, Tresiba, is relatively new. (It seems to work well for him, unlike his old long term insulin.) To that end, the drug manufacturer offers a ‘discount card’ to patients who can’t afford their medication WITH insurance. The card allows a $25 copay per prescription. We picked it up the other day and I actually saw the ‘cost’ to patient (after insurance if we didn’t have the card) of… wait for it… $1,695! This is something he can’t live without – yes it’s ‘NEW’ but it really isn’t… it’s a variant of the old…. His short term, I expect, to cost approximately $200/month until we meet our $6,000 deductible… and then, we will still have to pay ‘something’ until we reach our $10,000 out of pocket. I’m with you. It is scary!!! (and I work in physicians office and do billing, etc… and try to help our patients make the best choices they can… )

  12. Geoff,
    We went thru the exact same thing with Coumadin, it has been around forever, but now there are all new ones out there like Warfarin, xarelto…., but Coumadin that has been around forever is the highest price medication………….Shame on Bristol Myers..

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