Helping to Make Insulin More Affordable

As we continue to live with and manage COVID-19, we can’t forget about the many Americans who may also be working to manage their chronic diseases, like diabetes. 

People with diabetes may be at greater risk of experiencing complications, if infected by the virus. However, the risk of severe symptoms is likely to be lower if their diabetes is well-managed. That means, affordable access to products like insulin is important at a time like this. 

Over the last decade, insulin prices set by pharmaceutical manufacturers have risen by nearly 300 percent. For some, these price increases may be putting the drug out of reach or causing people to make difficult decisions, according to the American Diabetes Association. 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’s Ongoing Efforts to Help Increase Affordable Insulin Access

UnitedHealthcare is committed to helping members manage their chronic conditions, like diabetes, which includes access to affordable prescriptions. More than a decade ago, efforts were made to place insulin products on our Tier 1 drug list, the lowest cost-share tier that’s typically reserved for generic prescriptions. This has helped members pay less than $12 on average for a tier 1 insulin product.* 

Other measures to help members have affordable insulin include: 

  1. Preventive Medication Lists 
    UHC offers preventive medication lists that include insulin and other diabetes treatments, along with medications to treat many other chronic conditions. Employer groups can choose to add this coverage to their benefits for a small increase to their total health plan benefits cost. If selected, members will experience lower cost-sharing for diabetes drugs as well as other preventive medications addressing chronic conditions, many of which may also affect individuals with diabetes. 
  2. Point of Sale Discounts
    Tier 1 and Tier 2 insulin products have rebates, and members with a high-deductible plan (without a preventive benefit) may see a majority of that value passed through as a discount at the time of purchase. This is available for fully insured members and we encourage our ASO customers to adopt a similar approach. Please check your health benefit plan to see if this is available to you.
  3. Diabetes Health Plan
    This value-based health plan design has been offered to self-funded employers since 2009. It eliminates or reduces member cost share for insulin and other diabetic medications when these members are adherent with evidence-based treatment guidelines. 

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 UHC is helping members with diabetes. 

* UnitedHealthcare internal analysis which does not include CDH Plans; 2019.