Utah Legislature To Consider Cap On Insulin Prices
“Prescription drugs don’t work if people can’t afford to buy them,” said Mindie Hooley, the Utah Insulin For All chapter leader. For her, the fight for affordable medication is personal.
Hooley said after a change in insurance policies increased their deductible, she was forced to walk away from the pharmacy without filling her son’s insulin prescription two years ago, because the cost increased to $800, out of pocket.
“We had lost our home. We lost our cars. We were struggling to buy food. We went into medical debt, all over the course of quite a few months," she said. "Insulin shouldn't cost more than my car payment, my house or our food bill each month.”
As fellow chapter member Stephanie Arceneaux said, “Insulin is like oxygen for those with Type 1.”
Hooley said her son began to self-ration his insulin and could have died if she hadn’t taken him to the doctor. Hooley’s story is one faced by many families across the country, as one in four patients with type 1 diabetes ration insulin due to costs.
This is something many lawmakers are hoping to counter by proposing caps to lower the monthly cost of insulin — such as House Bill 207 in Utah. The bill would incentivize insurance companies to charge no more than $30 for a 30-day supply of the life-saving drug — and that’s if they don’t wave the cost entirely by placing insulin in low-cost drug tier.
Emma Worsham, a student at Utah State University, has been dealing with type 1 diabetes for more than 13 years. She said she became aware of how expensive insulin was when she saw a medical bill on the kitchen counter when she was 14.
“I was like, I better not do any extracurriculars, I better not need extra clothes for school," Worsham said. "Like, I just, I don't want to ask for anything because I cost so much.”
H.B. 207 unanimously passed the House Health and Human Services Committee hearing on Thursday. If the bill passes the senate and is signed into law by the governor, Utah would become the third state to place a cap on insulin co-pays. Colorado was the first state to cap co-pays at $100, followed by Illinois, and lawmakers in Tennessee are currently working on a bill that would cap insulin prescriptions at $100 a month, with or without insurance.