According to a recent report published by the Rand Corporation, insulin prices in the US remain five to ten times higher than the prices of the same insulin in other countries.
In May 2020, the Trump administration announced changes for some medicare recipients to cap monthly copays for insulin at $35 a month, claiming the new model would provide an average out of pocket savings of $446 a year, with beneficiaries able to enroll into the new program if they aren’t currently for coverage in 2021. Trump signed another executive order aimed at high insulin costs in July 2020, directing federal health care centers to pass along discounts for insulin and epinephrine to certain low-income Americans, and another order aimed at permitting state insurance plans to allow for drug importation of insulin products made in the USA.
Trump claimed the orders will cut the price of insulin to “pennies a day” without acknowledging the limited scope of his orders, as diabetics are still struggling to afford insulin as costs remain high. During the first presidential debate, Trump falsely claimed his orders lowered insulin costs “so cheap, it’s like water”.
“The executive orders are very narrow in scope and don’t do anything for the root of the problem,” said John Tagliareni, leader of the Iowa Insulin for All chapter and a type one diabetic since 1998. He explained the orders provide a small discount for some health clinics and rely on foreign governments, like Canada, that have negotiated affordable drug prices with insulin manufacturers. “Those executive orders are political talking points, it’s not actual legislation,” added Tagliareni. “It does nothing on overall costs. It does nothing to the pharmaceutical companies for price gouging the American consumer because there’s no competition.”
For many of the 26.9 million Americans diagnosed with diabetes, including nearly 1.6 million with type one diabetes who require several daily insulin doses, the struggle to afford insulin is a constant problem.