March 2022 Maximixe your HSA e-Newsletter  Vol. 18, Issue 5

Out-of-Control Insulin Prices are a Threat to Our Healthcare Freedom


 There’s a sad tale to tell about a young man named Alec Smith. At only 23 years old, he was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. At 26, under Obamacare rules, he was kicked off his parents’ insurance plan.  

Working at a restaurant in Minneapolis, Alec was having a hard time paying nearly $500 / month for an individual plan. Meanwhile, his deductible was almost $8,000, an amount that many of us would have a hard time paying.

So Alec decided to drop his insurance plan, and use the money to pay for his insulin. But what he found was that since he last checked, the price for a monthly supply of insulin had gone up to $1300. It was more than he had in his bank account. With no other choice, he had to wait for his next paycheck before purchasing.

Five days later, he was found dead from diabetic ketoacidosis. That was 2017. Since then, insulin prices have gone up even further. It’s just more evidence of what we’ve known all along: The American medical complex, big pharma included, are playing by their own rules, and doing everything they can to limit our collective healthcare freedom.             

The Insulin Racket Threatens Us All

Alec’s tragic story has been told again and again to illustrate the problem with the insulin war in this country. And it’s true: For diabetics, insulin is very much about life or death.

But even people who can afford good insurance are being hurt by all this. The good insurance plans still only pay a portion of the cost. Insured diabetics still have to come up with between $500 and $900 a month just to get their medicine.

Why Insulin Prices Are High [According to Them]

When pressed, pharmaceutical companies give the same three reasons for skyrocketing insulin costs. The first is “high cost of development”. The second is that these prices are just “the result of a free market economy”. And third, they say that the high costs of insulin are necessary for “continued innovation.”

Just curious: How much of that do you believe?

Why Insulin Prices Are Actually High

Here’s why big pharma’s reasoning is actually bullsh*t, point by point:

  1. “The High Cost of Development” – Insulin is over 100 years old. Even with newer, more advanced versions hitting the market, this drug is certainly not “still in development”.
  2. “The Result of a Free Market Economy” – The free-market economy is NOT in play here, and the rising costs are direct evidence of this. When functioning, free markets work to bring costs DOWN, not up.
  3. “We Need the Money for Continued Innovation” – There is very limited innovation when it comes to insulin. In fact, the most commonly used insulin products are over 20 years old. The most pressing matter now is affordability.

Insulin prices are actually high because a.) 90% of it is produced by just three companies (Eli Lilly, Novo Nordisk, and Sanofi Aventis), b.) The federal government’s patent overregulation makes it impossible for new generics to enter the market, and c.) Pharmacy benefit managers and other middlemen directly benefit from a higher list price.

The Solution: Keep Fighting for Healthcare Freedom, Transparency, and Competition

As healthcare freedom advocates, we believe that the most effective route to affordable healthcare is putting more options on the table for everyone. This means protecting low-cost alternatives like healthcare cost sharing, and supporting competition between hospitals, health insurance giants, and pharmaceutical companies.

When it comes to lowering insulin prices, we also support:

  • Increased advocacy
  • Emergency access laws
  • Easier paths for biosimilar (generic) entry into the market
  • Value-based reimbursement and pricing
  • Preference of lower-cost generic versions in plan formularies

Do You Know Someone Who is Struggling to Pay for Prescription Drugs?

At HSA for America, our goal is to make healthcare more affordable for anyone that wants it. In many instances, this means getting people into a health plan that has the best prescription formulary for their needs. If you know someone you think you might be paying too much, suggest that they schedule a time to talk with your personal benefits manager.

Need help paying for insulin, or know someone that does? Here are some additional resources:

InsulinHelp.Org from the American Diabetes AssociationInformation on how to access discounts and financial help directly from your insulin manufacturer.

Association of National Free and Charitable ClinicsFind free or low-cost services and medications in your area.

GetInsulin.OrgA collection of support services, discount programs, and FAQS about paying less for insulin.


Click here to schedule an appointment, or call 800-913-0172 to get started.    

To your health and wealth,

Wiley Long Signature

Wiley P. Long, III
President - HSA for America

Wiley Long Portrait

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Wiley Long HSA for America President

Wiley Long is President of HSA for America. He believes that consumers should have choice and price transparency, so they can make the best healthcare decisions for their needs. Read more about Wiley on his Bio page.

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