KentuckyOwensboro

High Cost of Insulin Becomes Lawmakers’ Focus

As the number of Kentuckians with diabetes has grown, so has the cost of their life-saving drugs.

With the price of insulin up nearly 45 percent over the last few years, lawmakers in Frankfort are looking for solutions.

Charles Edge is in his 80s, and still working in order to have both extra income and to cover his medical expenses.

“So it’s very expensive. Some doctors cost more than others, so you have to check that out,” he explained.

Charles has been on insulin for nearly three decades. Working for Nighthawk Security in Owensboro helps him manage his diabetes through exercise, but it also helps with the cost.

“I do a lot of juggling around trying to get the money down, get the price down,” Charles added.

Kentucky has been hit hard by diabetes, and the problem is getting worse.

“We’ve gone from one to 50, one to 25, one to 20, and now we’re one out of 10 people in Kentucky has diabetes,” cited Melissa Gaither, who serves as a diabetes patient educator for Owensboro Health.

Which is why the General Assembly is proposing new legislation to cap the price, and help those seeing an impact not only on their budget, but on their health.

“If a person has type-1 diabetes, that’s the only way they can survive. They cannot survive without insulin. Their bodies don’t make insulin so it’s absolutely necessary,” Gaither said.

If passed, the bill would cap the cost-sharing requirements for prescription insulin at $100 per 30-day supply next year, trying to take a chunk out of the $5 billion per year in Kentucky for diabetes medical costs.

And while Charles knows he’ll still have to put some of his work money toward managing diabetes:

“It’d be nice if they could give it to us free, but then I know things cost.”

He’s looking forward to spending on more than his health.

With people like Charles accounting for 1 out of every 4 health care dollars spent in the US, it’s the hope that legislation like this will make a difference, in cost and in their lives.

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