With diabetes affecting 1M Georgians, bill looks to cap costs

A vial of insulin, pictured Dec. 2, 2021
A vial of insulin, pictured Dec. 2, 2021(Mary Green)
Published: Mar. 4, 2022 at 10:42 AM EST
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WASHINGTON (WRDW/WAGT) - The out-of-pocket cost of insulin for diabetics can be high, even if they have insurance, but Congress is looking at a way to cap that expense.

Under the Affordable Insulin Now Act, private group or individual insurance plans would be required to cover one of each insulin dosage form at $35 per month.

The legislation was introduced last month by Sen. Raphael Warnock.

According to one estimate, diabetics spend close to $6,000 annually on insulin alone. This is all while costs for insulin are going up and manufacturers of the drug are pocketing more revenue from insulin sales than in prior decades.

“Too many Georgians have or know someone who has diabetes, and too many live with the burden of treating this chronic condition with critical insulin that’s costing them more and more,” said Warnock, D-Ga.

More than 1 million Georgians, or more than 12% of state’s adult population, are living with diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association, which endorsed the measure.

“It’s time we make insulin affordable for millions of Americans,” the group said.

Costs to treat diabetes have continued to rise for many Georgians and Americans: according to the Health Care Costs Institute, insulin prices nearly doubled from 2012 to 2016, with the average price for a 40-day supply of insulin increasing from $344 to $666 during that span.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, medical costs and lost work and wages for people with diagnosed diabetes total $327 billion yearly, and the American Diabetes Association has asserted that diabetics account for $1 of every $4 spent on health care in the U.S.

At the same time, a 2021 bipartisan staff report from the Senate Finance Committee found insulin manufacturers “are retaining more revenue from insulin than in the 2000s,” and that “the amount of revenue pharmaceutical manufacturers are retaining from insulin has risen.”

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