Health Kentucky Politics

Gov. Andy Beshear, legislators, and advocates on Tuesday urged passage of House Bill 12, which would limit how much insurers can charge for a month’s-worth of insulin medication. 

The bill would limit commercial health insurers to $100 in copay for a 30-day supply of insulin, and would forbid insurers from reducing or eliminating health coverage in response to the proposed law. It is one of a handful of bills filed this year that would try to cap insulin costs and pharmacy services.

“Something more must be done to help those suffering from diabetes so that they can afford the life-saving medication that they require,” Beshear said. “While the disease is not partisan, it is a health epidemic here in Kentucky.”

Kentucky’s Cabinet for Health and Family Services estimates that one in seven adults are diagnosed with diabetes, costing the state $5.16 billion in medical costs and lost wages. American Diabetes Association research found that insulin prices nearly tripled between 2002 and 2013. The cabinet estimates that some Kentuckians pay more than $1,000 a month for insulin. Those who cannot afford more insulin may ration their supplies, endangering their health

But Kentucky #Insulin4All Chapter Leader Sarah Ferguson said some Kentuckians are dying because they cannot afford the drug. 

“You must have [insulin] to live. The choice becomes what to skimp on: whether to pay the rent or the electric bill, or even how little insulin you can possibly get by on,” Ferguson said. “House Bill 12 is a small step forward for Kentuckians struggling with high insulin prices.”

Estimates put the cost  manufacturing insulin at around $6 per vial while consumers pay around $300 for the same vial.

An analysis by the Kentucky Department of Insurance said House Bill 12 would not “materially” increase insurers’ expenses, but added that health care costs would increase between $.07 and $.24 per member per month — between $350,000 and $1.1 million for fully insured policies.

The bill will be effective January 1, 2021 if signed into law.

Governor Beshear sued the nation’s three largest insulin manufacturers last year and proposed to curb insulin costs during his inaugural address,

Kyeland Jackson is an Associate Producer for WFPL News.