High insulin costs striking fear among those with diabetes

High cost of insulin taking a toll on patients

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear filed suit against the three major insulin makers over increasingly high prices this year.

And Wednesday, his office argued against the manufacturers’ motion to dismiss in Franklin Circuit Court. Many Kentucky residents are watching the case, like Maggie Callahan.

“I’m 25 and I’ll turn 26 in February,” Callahan said.

While 25-year-olds usually look forward to celebrating their birthdays, Callahan has a different viewpoint.

“It’s just really stressful for me,” she said.

The Manual High School and Eastern Kentucky University graduate said her birthday comes with fear, and age 26 means she’ll be dropped from her parents’ health insurance plan.

“The costs are going to change,” she said.

While Callahan, who suffers from Type 1 diabetes, can get work insurance, she’s worried it’s not as good as her parents’ plan. Her costs keep rising for insulin and all its life-saving products: A glucose monitor, test strips, her insulin pump, its tubing and applicator that she frequently changes with a prescription.

“Having to have that thought process, am I going to have enough money to afford that, to me that just seems like something we shouldn’t have to worry about,” she said.

According to AARP, one vial of insulin costs around $300. Patients with Type 1 diabetes usually require three to four per month. Even with insurance, some families are paying as much as $1,000 monthly. Several diabetics in their 20s have died across the country in the past two years from rationing. Callahan said as they go out on their own, they can’t afford the insulin.

She also said she’s praying Kentucky joins states like Colorado, recently capping insulin co-pays at $100.

“Some people are eating hardly anything because they know if they don’t have the insulin to cover what they’re eating,” she said. “I can’t imagine, and I just don’t think it’s acceptable,”

Callahan also said she doesn’t think it’s ethical.

“I just think we’ve got to fix the problem,” she said.

Beshear’s office claims deceptive practices among the insulin companies, lawyers for which argue the court can’t set and regulate prices, and there’s nothing fraudulent about charging the uninsured more. The judge plans to rule in about three weeks.

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