The Fight to Reduce the High Cost of Insulin

FRANKFORT, Ky. — More than 1.7 million Kentuckians have or are at risk of having diabetes.

For many diabetics access to insulin means life or death but in the last 14 years insulin costs have shot by 550 percent and as the prices continue to skyrocket many Kentuckians find themselves rationing the lifesaving drug. 

“It’s not a cheap disease,” said Kaye Peterson, a Type 1 diabetic. “If you’re on two or more insulins that’s $100, $200, $300 dollars, our underinsured and uninsured cannot afford that. They are begging for insulin every day.”

Now a bipartisan group of lawmakers is coming together to address the increasing cost of the medicine.

Rep. Danny Bentley, R-Russell, has proposed several pieces of legislation that will help address the cost, beginning with House Bill 12, which will cap the cost of deductibles on insulin to $100 every 30 days. This would only apply to those with private insurance.

He has also filed House Resolution 14, which would proclaim April 26 Diabetic Ketoacidosis Awareness Day. Diabetic Ketoacidosis is a deadly condition caused by a lack of insulin in the body.

Bentley also is sponsoring House Bill 72, called the “Rx Accumulator Bill” will allow coupons to be applied to deductibles in pharmacies, Bentley says this will not only help diabetics struggling to pay for insulin but it will also help thousands of Kentuckians with other diseases.

House Bills 248 and 249 were also introduced to bring more transparency to insulin and other prescription drug pricing.

Bentley says these are meant to draw attention to the problem.

“We want to have the awareness ketoacidosis, talk about reducing the cost of insulin and saving lives in Kentucky,” he said.

The American Diabetes Association is behind these measures.

“No individual in need of insulin should ever go without due to prohibitive costs,” said Gary Dougherty, American Diabetes Association. “The intent of HB 12 is to cap insulin copays at $100 per month regardless of the type or amount of insulin a person a person is prescribed, this would be a great step forward insuring insulin is more affordable for those who need it.”