How to get Reduced Price Insulin during the COVID-19 Pandemic

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Do you fear that you won’t be able to afford your insulin during COVID-19? The big three insulin manufacturers have assistance programs that can help you get insulin for less. One, Eli Lilly, has even launched a major new reduced pricing initiative in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Efforts to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus across America have led to extraordinary unemployment rates and an instant recession, with millions losing their health insurance outright. The economic turmoil has threatened to push untold numbers of people with diabetes towards financial ruin. Insulin prices were already so high as to encourage widespread rationing, a very dangerous and occasionally fatal cost-cutting strategy. Luckily, the calls for lower insulin prices are only getting louder and more difficult to ignore.

Here’s a guide to some of the resources available for finding insulin at lower costs:  

 

Eli Lilly

Eli Lilly and Company has announced a new Lilly Insulin Value Program, which is available both to anyone without health insurance or with commercial insurance, including insurance through a job.

The Lilly Insulin Value Program is essentially a card that caps co-pays at $35. The savings card is obtained directly from Lilly: call (833) 808-1234 to request one.

Patients on government insurance plans, including Medicare and Medicaid, are ineligible for the co-pay card.  

Lilly has a variety of other affordability programs available, which are most accessible by calling the Lilly Diabetes Solution Center. For those ineligible for the new $35 co-pay card, Lilly also has two different discount programs that can reduce the prices on insulin, but may not count towards an insurance deductible. Lilly’s unbranded, “generic” form of Humalog – which met mixed reviews when it was announced – may also be a less expensive option for some patients, where available. 

Eli Lilly manufactures Basalgar and Humalog insulins.

 

Novo Nordisk

The Danish pharmaceutical giant is now offering a free 90-day insulin supply to people “experiencing hardship” due to COVID-19.

After 90 days have expired, people that have been denied Medicaid benefits will be able to apply for free insulin for the rest of the year.

If you’re already desperate, NovoNordisk also offers an Immediate Supply option for those that need insulin as quickly as possible.

The new offer is part of an expansion Novo Nordisk’s signature assistance effort, its Patient Assistance Program (PAP), which can provide free insulin to those without insurance that are below a certain income level.

If you have insurance but are still struggling to afford your insulin, check out the My$99Insulin program, a one-time discount for purchase that may be less than your regular cost. And it is always worth checking the website’s list of savings cards.

Novo Nordisk manufactures Fiasp, Levemir, Novolog, and Tresiba insulins.

 

Sanofi

Sanofi has announced fewer major changes for those experiencing financial difficulties due to COVID-19, but its regular patient assistance programs may still prove helpful.

If you still have insurance, Sanofi offers savings cards that can reduce prices to as low as $0 for each of its various insulins.

For those without prescription insurance, the company’s Insulins Valyou Savings Program offers a set price of $99 per month for up to 10 vials or pen boxes of insulin, including multiple types of insulin.

The Sanofi Patient Connection can also provide low- and middle-income patients with free medications. In response to COVID-19, Sanofi has temporarily extended the length of temporary coverage available (patients on the temporary assistance program can now receive 180 days of free medicine, up from 90), and has eased documentation requirements.

 

Sanofi manufactures Ademelog, Apidra, Lantus and Toujeo.

Health Insurers

While we couldn’t find news that any major health insurers had promised reduced pricing on insulin, new policies in the coronavirus era may impact how people with diabetes order their insulin. Many major insurance companies have changed its refill options – in particular, if you were previously only able to fill your prescriptions one month at a time, you may now be able to get three months’ worth at once. 90-day prescriptions are even more common with mail-order pharmacies.

Mail-order insulin may already be more attractive due to the reduced infection risk; higher risk citizens have been encouraged to stay out of public as much as possible. Filling larger orders of insulin should be especially attractive to anyone worried about losing insurance or the ability to pay for insulin in the near-term. And while the global insulin supply is not reportedly at risk, it’s never a bad idea to “plan ahead.”

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