Our Turn: It’s time for the Legislature to address insulin costs

Published: 12/21/2019 6:15:12 AM

No one should be forced to choose between their health and financial security; that’s not good for our families, our communities, or the overall cost of health care.

That’s why we filed legislation to prohibit insurance companies from charging patients more than $100 for a 30-day supply of insulin. In addition, our bill will waive the deductible for insulin products that meet this pricing requirement.

While the cost of insulin production has not changed in the past decade, the cost of insulin itself has continued to rise at alarming rates. In 1923, the patent for insulin was sold for $1; yet today, the most popular forms of insulin can cost over $400 per vial.

According to a study by the American Diabetes Association, the average price of insulin in the United States has nearly tripled between 2002 and 2013. Most diabetics need several vials per month, raising the cost of surviving for millions of Americans by thousands of dollars each year.

These price hikes have prompted far too many Granite Staters living with diabetes to ration insulin or skip doses entirely, sometimes leading to fatal consequences and far too often, costly emergency room visits.

That’s why legislation to take on these high costs is necessary.

This kind of legislation is not unique to New Hampshire. This past May, Colorado became the first state in the country to cap insulin costs at $100 a month for insured patients, regardless of how much insulin they require per month.

On the national level, New Hampshire’s own U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, along with Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, proposed the Insulin Price Reduction Act, which would reduce the cost of insulin to its price in 2006.

While insulin access and affordability is a national issue, we cannot wait for Washington, D.C., to act. It is our job to protect the health and well-being of Granite Staters now by making insulin affordable and accessible for all.

It is our job to protect families and businesses from the further rising costs of health care, at least partly resulting from the costly treatment of people with diabetes in our emergency rooms. And it is also our job to attract and retain the working families of tomorrow, and to say, like Colorado has, that young workers who have kids with diabetes are more than welcome here.

That’s exactly what our legislation hopes to accomplish, and we hope colleagues on both sides of the aisle will embrace it.

(Garrett Muscatel is a Dartmouth College student and state representative for Hanover. Dan Feltes, a former legal aid attorney, is a state senator for Concord, Hopkinton, Penacook, Warner and Henniker, and is majority leader of the state Senate.)

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