The High Cost of Insulin

                                                                                          Adam King CPhT, PRS                                                                    Pharmacy Savings Program Manager


Rarely a week goes by where I don’t hear about the high cost of insulin, either from employees that participate in HPA’s program or through media outlets.  Yes, the cost of insulin is high, and there are few generics available to combat the problem.

I do have good news!  There are steps that you can take to lower the cost of your insulin prescription:

  • Manufacturer coupons- Most of the major manufacturers of insulin do offer copay discount cards. You can find a list of them on the website needymeds.org.  If you are using Humalog, note that the manufacturer program only covers the U-200 pen.
  • Look into switching brands- Some insulins can be used interchangeably. Lantus, Toujeo, and Basaglar are all the same insulin made by different companies, but Lantus will cover the entire cost of your copay where the other two have a limit on their copay cards.   Novolog and Humalog are nearly identical but may require a dose conversion to switch from one to the other.  Always consult with your physician before changing insulins and doses.
  • The makers of Humalog offer a discount on their products through a company called Blink Health. If you have a health plan with a high deductible, this may be an option for you.  Since Blink Health processes the prescription payment, you won’t be able to pay for the discount with your health savings account.  However, you can pay yourself back from that account if it is properly set up and still enjoy the tax benefit and cash discount.
  • If your child is insulin dependent, investigate your state’s Children’s Special Health Insurance Plan. These plans offer affordable premiums based on your income and reduces copayment at the pharmacy to $0.  Depending on your state, children may be eligible to participate up to the age of 21.
  • Vials of insulin are less expensive than the pen versions of the same insulin. If you feel comfortable drawing insulin into a syringe, this may be another option to lower cost.

These strategies can help you while the government works toward a longer-term solution to the problem.  The Food and Drug Administration is looking at ways to increase competition and introduce lower cost insulins, but they must first re-write a few regulations which is likely going to take a year or two.