If you had a friend that was $500 short of paying for their prescription medication would you pay for it?
While you think on that imagine that the friend is too embarrassed to ask for the help and just doesn’t get the medication, what then?
None of us want to think of what would happen if the medication meant life or death and each of us promises ourselves that we would happily give them the money, but the choice is much simpler than that.
We can start to move to a system where all Americans have healthcare, they have the medications that they need to survive and they get preventative care that will drastically lower per capita healthcare costs nationwide.
Instead what we have is:
screenshot from The Nation
READ: Drug Companies Are Profiting Huge As Diabetics Struggle To Afford Their Life
Insulin is a billion-dollar industry with zero low-priced generic versions on the market. While most name-brand drugs have generic versions that cost less than half the price, insulin is different.
Insulin is monopolized by the 3 big pharmaceutical companies — Eli Lilly, Sanofi, and Novo Nordisk — and the price for the insulin products made by those manufacturers has risen astronomically over the last decade. Humalog, a form of insulin that carried a sticker price of $21 a vial in 1996, today costs $255. A 34-year-old form of insulin, Humulin, priced at $17 a vial in 1997 now costs $138 a vial. Many diabetics also may need more than one vial of insulin a month.
The American Diabetes Association’s board of directors is calling on Congress to hold hearings to investigate dramatic increases in insulin prices and to take action to ensure that people have affordable access to the essential drug.
The price of insulin that has continued to rise over the years has led many into debt, bankruptcy, and even to the point of rationing insulin (which can cause complications or death). Millions of diabetics and their family members are struggling more than ever to afford not only their insulin but food and other basic necessities.
Without a functional and fair system of providing healthcare to all Americans, we are left with the patchwork of insanity and per capita spending hell that is our modern healthcare system.
Over the last decade, we have fixed so many holes in the healthcare system and the ACA has done the yeoman’s work of Medicaid expansion bringing millions more Americans into the fold with healthcare coverage and just as importantly it has stopped insurers from denying coverage to people who have pre-existing conditions.
The ACA was a great first step and we need to maintain it, strengthen it and work to ensure we lower costs for all Americans and we must continue to work to ensure all Americans have healthcare, not access to it, but have healthcare.
Back to the question, if a friend was $500 short of paying for insulin, would you give them the money? Then realize they needed that money after month.
Asking your friends and family for money or GoFundMe pages are not a safe or functional healthcare delivery system.
This modern-day jar at the gas station is a disgusting example of our current healthcare delivery system. Nearly half of all the money raised on GoFundMe was for medical fundraisers.
This is not the America we need or the America anyone deserves. We all deserve better.
We owe our diabetic friends and family a system that provides stability and safety.
Nearly 6 million Americans — young and old depend on insulin to stay alive. Insulin is not a luxury, it’s a necessity of life. We need transparency, affordability, and access to all.
The Diabetes Community Is Speaking Out
Many in the diabetes community (whether diabetics or parents) are taking to social media in the form of hashtags and elongated posts to express their frustration and desperation for change. The desire of millions is to find a cure for diabetes. But many have come to grips with the assumption that the cure will never come because the pharmaceutical companies won’t allow it. Our lives are in the hands of pharmaceutical greed and we need the price gouging of life-sustaining medication to end.
The Republican Senate recently confirmed a pharmaceutical executive, Alex Azar, to lead the Department of Health and Human Services.
From a must-read article in The Nation:
Last year The New York Times published an op-ed urging the break up of the “insulin racket.” But rather than break it up, Trump has nominated one of its architects, Alex Azar, for secretary of Health and Human Services.
From 2007 to 2017, Azar worked for pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly. While he was a senior VP, Lilly paid a record $1.415 billion to settle a case on its off-label promotion of the antipsychotic Zyprexa. Rising up the ranks, Azar became president of Lilly USA, the largest division of Eli Lilly, in 2012, a position he held until resigning in January of this year.
During Azar’s tenure, Eli Lilly raised the prices on its insulins in the United States by 20.8 percent in 2014, 16.9 percent in 2015, and 7.5 percent in 2016. Eli Lilly’s biggest seller, Humalog insulin, is now off-patent. But rather than becoming cheaper, Humalog costs more now than when it first came to market in 1996. When Azar started working at Eli Lilly in June 2007, the list price for a vial of Humalog was $74. When he quit in January 2017, it was $269.
Americans have the power to enact a system that is more equitable for all and will ensure every citizen has high-quality care.
This takes political courage and political leaders only get political courage when constituents unite in a movement for change. That is the only way we will fix our broken healthcare system that holds our friends and family hostage, bankrupts them and threatens the lives of many of them.
What we have is not a healthcare system, it is another way to extract profit from people without regard for health outcomes.