How Amazon Pharmacy is Making Insulin More Affordable
In 2022, the Inflation Reduction Act was passed, capping the cost of insulin among seniors, including those on insulin pumps and Medicare, at $35 per month. This went into effect in 2023.
While certainly, a step in the right direction as insulin costs have continued to rise over the past years, it only impacts a small percentage of the larger diabetes community being negatively affected by price hikes on life-saving medication.
In an article posted by NPR regarding the Inflation Reduction Act, former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi reminded reporters, “One in four Americans is forced to skip or ration doses of insulin, and that’s life-threatening.” Pelosi also stated that the new act would likely pave the way for further action on negotiating drug prices for insulin and other medications.
Fast forward to April of 2023, and Senators Jeane Shaheen (D-NH) and Susan Collins (R-ME), co-chairs of the Senate Diabetes Caucus, introduced bipartisan legislation entitled Improving Needed Safeguards for Users of Lifesaving Insulin Now Act of 2023.
What Does the New Insulin Act Mean?
You can read in more detail about the new act and how it would help the more than 37 million people in The United States who are living with diabetes. Remember, this is still a bill. Legislation has not yet been passed, which means, as of right now, the act is not in effect. Should it pass, however, the Insulin Act of 2023 (as it's being called) would very likely significantly impact the diabetes community. Here’s why:
- It would limit out-of-pocket expenses for people with diabetes, requiring group and individual market health plans to waive any deductible and limit cost-sharing to no more than $35 or 25% of the monthly list price for at least one insulin of each type and dosage form.
- It would mandate that Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs) pass through 100% of insulin rebates and other discounts received from manufacturers to plan sponsors, thereby reducing incentives that encourage price hikes.
- Promote the development of generic and biosimilar alternatives to manufactured insulin so they can enter the market more quickly, providing more affordable options to reduce the costs of daily diabetes management further.
Diabetes is one of the leading causes of death in The United States, claiming more than 100,000 lives in 2021. The authors of the new bill also point out that diabetes is one of the costliest chronic conditions to manage in the nation, tallying up a total of $327 billion in expenses per year. Additionally, nearly 9% of patients with private insurance paid an average of $403/month to cover insulin costs in 2019, and this number has undoubtedly risen since then.
The rising cost of insulin is one of the primary issues facing the diabetes community. It has simply become untenable for too many families living with the disease who are forced to choose between medication and putting food on the table or paying rent. This new legislation is a bold move to make diabetes management more affordable.
Amazon Delivers for the Diabetes Community
In another bold move, online giant Amazon is doing its part to lower insulin costs to as little as $35 per month for the approximately 8 million Americans who rely on the drug to manage their diabetes.
Amazon Pharmacy has introduced an “automatic coupon” feature that provides users with instant and automatic savings on more than 15 insulin and diabetes care brands. Learn more about automatic couponing.
“Access to affordable diabetes medications and technology can help people with diabetes stay healthy and avoid complications,” said Charles “Chuck” Henderson, Chief Executive Officer of the American Diabetes Association. “We applaud Amazon Pharmacy for innovating on behalf of patients and taking the important action to help ensure people living with diabetes can easily access treatments they need through a transparent purchase process that automatically applies any eligible discounts.”
The new technology initiated by Amazon Pharmacy takes the old art of couponing to modern and new heights. While online wholesalers like Diabetic Warehouse have made it more convenient and affordable for those living with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes to purchase necessary diabetic supplies, such as syringes, pen needles, infusion sets, and continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) devices and accessories, the cost of insulin itself remains something outside of the wholesale market.
The thing is, there are coupons and rebates out there for prescribed insulin. It’s just not always easy for people to learn about or find these coupons and redeem them for substantial medication savings. In fact, according to Amazon, an estimated 85% of manufacturer-sponsored coupons go unused. The new Amazon solution aims to lower this number by sourcing and automatically applying any eligible coupons at the time of checkout, ensuring that customers don’t miss out on any potential discounts. It doesn’t matter if a person is insured, uninsured, or underinsured; the system will find the coupons and show the buyer the exact price and savings directly on Amazon.
“Even though upfront pricing sounds obvious, it’s a sea change in health care,” says Dr. Vin Gupta, Chief Medical Officer of Amazon Pharmacy. “As a physician, it’s heartening to know that patients will have visibility into the cost of their insulin before they stand in line or wait to speak with a pharmacist. Automatically applying coupons allows patients to access better medications that are effective and affordable, and this combination can improve adherence and support better care.”
The rising cost of insulin (and other medications) is a primary concern for both the diabetes and medical communities. While the problem is far from solved, lawmakers in Washington, D.C., who continue to introduce and fight for new legislation to serve those with diabetes, are a big step forward, as is the involvement of companies like Amazon, who are using their resources to advance patient care. We’re not out of the woods. But it’s safe to say we are forging ahead.
We hope you found this post informative and insightful. At Diabetic Warehouse, we’re committed to helping those with diabetes manage blood sugar with a complete selection of testing and treatment supplies at up to 65% less than those found at most pharmacies and suppliers.
Diabetic Warehouse is a trusted supplier of diabetes care products and accessories. To explore a complete range of products, including glucose meters and test strips, insulin syringes, pen needles, continuous glucose monitoring systems, and more, visit www.diabeticwarehouse.org.