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!