Handling the High Costs of Insulin Use: Five Suggestions for Savings
Prices for insulin for diabetes treatment have been skyrocketing over the past few years, leading many consumers to face the difficult decision of whether they can afford their monthly medications.
Studies show that high medication costs can lead to poor adherence, like skipping or rationing doses. When it comes to medications like insulin, poor adherence may lead to long-term complications, hospitalization or even death.
When the stakes of not using the medication are high, but so is the price, what should you do? Consider the suggestions below, and if you are still struggling, please reach out to Network Health for help.
- Shop around. Not all pharmacies are created equally. Different pharmacies can have varying medication prices, so shop around to find the lowest cost options available. Some helpful websites include goodrx.com (for any type of insurance) and Medicare.gov (for Medicare members – start with “Find health & drug plans”).
- Be savvy when opting for lower-priced insulins. Some lower cost recommendations that you and your provider should discuss include the following.
- NPH insulin (e.g. Novolin N) instead of the more expensive long-acting insulins (e.g. Lantus, Levemir, or Tresiba)
- Basaglar (a biosimilar to Lantus) instead of the more expensive long-acting insulins
- Regular insulin (e.g. Novolin R) instead of the more expensive fast-acting insulins (e.g. Novolog)Medication Costs of Common Insulins
|Medication||Strength||Quantity||Ingredient cost (AWP)*|
|Basaglar Kwikpen||100 units/ml||5x3ml pens (one box)||$392|
|Lantus SoloStar||100 units/ml||5x3ml pens (one box)||$510|
|Levemir Flexpen||100 units/ml||5x3ml pens (one box)||$555|
|Tresiba Flextouch||100 units/ml||5x3ml pens (one box)||$610|
|Novolog Flexpen||100 units/ml||5x3ml pens (one box)||$671|
|Novolog 70/30 Flexpen||100 units/ml||5x3ml pens (one box)||$671|
|Novolin N||100 units/ml||10 ml vial||$165|
|Novolin R||100 units/ml||10 ml vial||$165|
* Ingredient costs last updated March 2019. Price subject to change.
- Find patient assistance programs. Check with the drug manufacturer about programs that may help with the medication cost. RxAssist.org is a useful resource. The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) and American Diabetes Association (ADA) provide multiple avenues for patient assistance, including options for those that do not qualify for manufacture assistance.Local Aging and Disability Resource Centers (ADRC) can be helpful resources not only for health care, but also for assisting with other needs such as transportation, nutrition and meal programs. Find a local center near you.
- Use Medication Therapy Management. Medicare members may be eligible for a comprehensive medication review (CMR) with a Network Health pharmacist. The discussion gives you an opportunity to review your medications and identify potential cost-saving strategies. Even if you don’t qualify for this program, or you are on a commercial or health exchange plan, feel free to call customer service and ask to speak with a pharmacist for a medication review.
- Make lifestyle modifications. Reducing calorie intake, losing excess weight and regularly exercising can help improve blood sugar control. Network Health offers support for lifestyle changes through health and wellness programs. Visit networkhealth.com and select Wellness Programs to learn more.