Oct 18, 2022 - Health

High insulin prices lead some adults to ration

Methods insulin users say they used to save money during the last year
Data: Gaffney, et al., Prevalence and Correlates of Patient Rationing of Insulin in the United States: A National Survey; Chart: Axios Visuals

More than 1 million adults in the United States are forced to ration insulin due to the drug's high costs, according to a new study in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Why it matters: U.S. insulin prices tend to be five to 10 times higher than those in 32 other high-income countries.

Driving the news: Democrats' Inflation Reduction Act will cap monthly out-of-pocket insulin costs to $35 for Medicare beneficiaries starting next year.

By the numbers: The researchers analyzed the 2021 National Health Interview Survey and found that 1.3 million Americans — 16.5% of adults with diabetes that use insulin — rationed doses in the past year.

  • Delaying purchases of the drug to save money was the most cited reason for rationing (14.2%), followed by cutting doses (10.6%) and skipping shots altogether (9.6%).
  • Uninsured people had the highest rates of rationing (29.2%), followed by those with private coverage (18.8%). Medicare recipients had lower rates (13.5%).

What they're saying: "Insulin rationing is frequently harmful, and sometimes deadly," lead research author Adam Gaffney, a pulmonary and critical care physician, said in a statement.

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