U.S. insulin costs per patient nearly doubled from 2012 to 2016

Although use of insulin by type 1 diabetics has not changed much in recent years, the cost has gone up markedly, according to a new analysis from the Health Care Cost Institute (HCCI). The nonprofit reports that daily insulin consumption in this patient population inched up 3% from 2012–16, yet its cost nearly doubled during that same time frame. The annual amount split by patients and their insurers, before rebates, jumped from an average of $2,864 to $5,705 over the study period. "It's not that individuals are using more insulin or that new products are particularly innovative or provide immense benefits," notes HCCI senior researcher Jeannie Fuglesten Biniek, who co-authored the paper. "Use is pretty flat, and the price changes are occurring in both older and newer products. ... The exact same products are costing double." The findings, based on a review of commercial claims data for an estimated 15,000 patients, come on the heels of mounting anecdotal evidence that high costs are driving insulin users to take potentially harmful steps, such as rationing their supplies.

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