$0 copay for insulin helps reduce stress for some members

For Kimberly Clark, managing type 1 diabetes has come with its share of challenges. She was first diagnosed at the age of 19 but over the course of the next five years, she went into diabetic ketoacidosis — a serious complication of diabetes that can be life-threatening — more than 10 times trying to manage her health.

On top of that, there was the incredible stress of managing the costs of vital, lifesaving prescriptions. It’s no secret that the cost of insulin has steadily increased over time, making it one of the most costly prescription drugs on the market.

Kimberly’s husband, Radly Clark, said the cost of insulin can be infuriating.

“There have been times we have paid hundreds for insulin and begged physicians to give us a sample vial, when we were low on funds or out of insulin early in our marriage,” he said. “The patent was sold for $1 to save lives and it was costing hundreds with insurance.”

For some, like Kimberly, price increases to insulin may be putting the drug out of reach or causing people to make difficult — sometimes unsafe — decisions. With more than 34 million Americans currently living with diabetes and 1.5 million diagnosed every year, there needs to be a solution to help more people have access to affordable insulin.

UnitedHealthcare is committed to helping members manage their chronic conditions, like diabetes, which includes access to certain prescriptions at $0 cost share. Earlier this year, UnitedHealthcare announced it will eliminate out-of-pocket costs in standard, fully insured group plans for certain preferred prescription drugs, including insulin. This new standard offering is now available to group fully insured plans, as of Jan. 1, 2023.

“High prices are a significant barrier to prescription drugs for many people, so we are using our unique capabilities to deliver savings for consumers,” said Brian Thompson, chief executive officer of UnitedHealthcare. “We are doing what we can to shield people from the prices set by pharmaceutical companies, and hope all stakeholders also will act to make prescription drugs more affordable.” 

Radly said when he heard the news of the $0 copay benefit, he was ecstatic.

“We always talked about this is how it should be for everyone,” he said.

In addition to insulin, several other drugs used to treat emergencies, such as severe allergic reactions, hypoglycemia, opioid overdoses and acute asthma attacks will also be available for eligible members at a $0 cost share. These include:

  • Epinephrine (for severe allergic reactions)
  • Glucagon (for hypoglycemia)
  • Naloxone (for opioid overdose)
  • Albuterol (for acute asthma attacks)

Insulin is a lifesaving drug for people living with diabetes, but the high cost may put many diabetics at risk. This is why strategies to improve access and affordability are critical.

Learn more about how UnitedHealthcare is helping members with diabetes.