CNN

To Save His Parents Money, This Diabetic Teen Cut Back On His Insulin

Jan 31, 2019, 12:40 AM | Updated: Jun 7, 2022, 4:02 pm
FILE PHOTO...
FILE PHOTO

(CNN) — Dillon Hooley loves his parents, so when he heard last year they were struggling to pay for his insulin, he wanted to help out any way he could.

The high school senior came up with an idea: He would cut back on his insulin by about a third.

Dillon, who has type1 diabetes, is supposed to keep his blood sugar levels between 130 and 150. After he started rationing insulin, his levels jumped as high as 300.

He knew that was dangerously high, and in the back of his mind he worried he might go into a diabetic coma.”I wasn’t thinking right, but my parents work so hard to give me what I need, and I didn’t want to put more financial stress on them,” said Dillon, now 18.

Skyrocketing insulin prices

From 2012 until 2016, the cost of insulin for people with type1 diabetes nearly doubled, from $2,864 per year to $5,705, according to a study out this month from the Health Care Cost Institute, a nonprofit research institute.

The cost of Dillon’s insulin was much higher. He was insured last year through his father’s job at a steel mill in Utah. When Dillon started rationing his insulin, the mill had just switched to an insurance plan with a high deductible, which meant his parents would have to pay $5,000 out of their own pocket before the insurance would kick in.

Under this new insurance, the Hooleys had to pay $800 a month for Dillon’s insulin, instead of the $60 a month they’d paid under their old plan.

Preoccupied with his family’s financial woes, Dillon’s father, Jason Hooley, was at work and didn’t notice that a 400 pound steel beam was about to fall on his middle finger. He lost half of his finger and could only do light work at the mill. With his hours cut back, he earned $300 less a week.

That’s when Dillon secretly started cutting back on his insulin. His parents found out when he went in for a regular doctor’s appointment and the doctor was shocked at his high blood sugar levels.

Dillon’s father then switched jobs twice to get better health insurance. Now the family pays $160 a month for his insulin, which is better than $800 a month, but still a financial struggle for the family of five. Dillon has gone back to taking his full doses of insulin under his mother’s watchful eye.

Mindie Hooley cries when she thinks about what her son did to help his parents.

“He’s such a selfless person,” she said. “My heart just broke, because you want to do everything to protect him, but instead he was protecting us.”

Promises from lawmakers

Some people with diabetes haven’t survived the rising price of insulin.

In 2017, 22-year-old Antavia Worsham from Cincinatti died when she couldn’t afford her insulin.

Her mother, Antroinette Worsham, testified Tuesday on Capitol Hill to the House Oversight and Reform Committee. A Senate committee also held a hearing Tuesday on rising drug prices.

“This is unacceptable, and I intend to specifically get to the bottom of the insulin price increase,” Sen. Charles Grassley, chair of the Senate Finance Committee said at the hearing.

The pharmaceutical industry says patients with insurance, like the Hooleys, shouldn’t have to pay full price, as insulin makers give deep discounts to insurance companies. “These savings are often not shared with patients whose out-of-pocket costs continue to soar,” said Holly Campell, spokeswoman for the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America.

A spokeswoman for the insurance industry, however, said that’s not true. “Savings from rebates go directly to customers,” said Cathryn Donaldson, a spokesman for America’s Health Insurance Plans.

In December of 2016, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland asked the Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission to investigate whether insulin manufacturers had colluded on drug prices.

In October, the Minnesota attorney general’s office filed a lawsuit against insulin makers alleging illegal pricing practices. A lawsuit filed by patients with diabetes in Massachusetts accusing insulin makers of price fixing is pending in federal court.

Dillon’s future

While drug and insurance companies point fingers at each other, the Hooleys are still struggling to pay the $160 a month for Dillon’s insulin, along with other supplies such as his test strips.

Paying for his insulin has made it impossible for Dillon’s parents to save up enough to buy him a glucose monitor that sets off an alarm if his blood sugar gets too low while he sleeps.

They know he needs one. Last month his mother checked in on him while he was sleeping and saw he didn’t look right. She woke him up and gave him some honey, but he was so confused from his low blood sugar that instead of eating it he smeared the honey all over his body.

An ambulance brought him o the emergency room, where was stabilized and released.

After graduating from high school last May, Dillon wanted to go to school to become a nurse or a respiratory therapist. Instead, he got a job at the factory where his father works to help pay for his insulin and to save up for school.

He looks back on his two and a half months of insulin rationing, and knows he made the wrong choice — but it was a choice borne from love.

“My parents do so much for me, and it was so hard to watch them struggle financially,” he said. “I felt helpless not to be able to contribute.”

The-CNN-Wire
™ & © 2019 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

CNN

A man takes a picture at the south entrance of Yellowstone National Park, as he waits to gain entry...
Christina Maxouris, CNN

Yellowstone plans to reopen its north loop, do away with limited capacity system

Yellowstone National Park's north loop will reopen to all visitors Saturday, nearly three weeks after epic floods swallowed roads and bridges, caused mudslides and prompted officials to shutter all of the park's entrances.
1 day ago
In this aerial view, members of law enforcement investigate a tractor trailer on June 27, 2022 in S...
Rosa Flores, Rosalina Nieves and Raja Razek, CNN

4 charged in Texas semi-truck smuggling operation that left 53 migrants dead

Four people have been arrested and charged after 53 migrants died in what one Homeland Security Investigations agent called the deadliest human smuggling incident in U.S. history.
1 day ago
The man who sold a semi-automatic weapon that was later used to take hostages in a Texas synagogue ...
Andi Babineau, CNN

Seller of weapon used to take hostages at Texas synagogue pleads guilty to federal charge

The man who sold a semi-automatic weapon that was later used to take hostages in a Texas synagogue in January has pleaded guilty to a federal firearms charge, according to a release from the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Texas.
1 day ago
Fourth of July weekend is approaching, and most of the United States will see rain chances through ...
Payton Major and Monica Garrett, CNN

Rain will be a big part of this holiday weekend, impacting flights and fireworks displays

Fourth of July weekend is approaching, and most of the United States will see rain chances through Monday.
1 day ago
In this aerial view, members of law enforcement investigate a tractor trailer on June 27 in San Ant...
Rosa Flores, Nicole Chavez, Ray Sanchez, Priscilla Alvarez & Rosalina Nieves, CNN

Police chief describes scene where 53 people died in San Antonio

When San Antonio Police officers responded to the scene of a tractor-trailer with dozens of migrants inside, they were hoping to rescue the occupants, Police Chief William McManus told CNN. Instead, they discovered a scene "beyond tragic."
1 day ago
FILE: In this photo illustration, the TikTok app is displayed on an Apple iPhone on August 7, 2020 ...
Brian Fung, CNN

FCC commissioner calls on Apple, Google to remove TikTok from app stores

A member of the Federal Communications Commission is renewing calls for Apple and Google to remove TikTok from their app stores, citing national security concerns surrounding TikTok's Chinese-based parent company, ByteDance.
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

hand holding 3d rendering mobile connect with security camera for security solutions...
Les Olson

Wondering what security solutions are right for you? Find out more about how to protect your surroundings

Physical security helps everyone. Keep your employees, clients, and customers safe with security solutions that protect your workplace.
Many rattan pendant lights, hay hang from the ceiling.Traditional and simple lighting....
Lighting Design

The Best Ways to Style Rattan Pendant Lighting in Your Home

Rattan pendant lights create a rustic and breezy feel, and are an easy way to incorporate this hot trend into your home decor.
Earth day 2022...
1-800-GOT-JUNK?

How Are You Celebrating Earth Day 2022? | 4 Simple Ways to Celebrate Earth Day and Protect the Environment

Earth Day is a great time to reflect on how we can be more environmentally conscious. Here are some tips for celebrating Earth Day.
Get Money Online...

More Ways to Get Money Online Right Now in Your Spare Time

Here are 4 easy ways that you can get more money online if you have some free time and want to make a little extra on the side.
Lighting trends 2022...

Lighting Trends 2022 | 5 Beautiful Home Lighting Trends You Can Expect to See this Year and Beyond

This is where you can see the latest lighting trends for 2022 straight from the Lightovation Show at the Dallas World Trade Center.
What Can't You Throw Away in the Trash...

What Can’t You Throw Away in the Trash? | 5 Things You Shouldn’t Throw in to Your Trash Can

What can't you throw away in the trash? Believe it or not, there are actually many items that shouldn't be thrown straight into the trash.
To Save His Parents Money, This Diabetic Teen Cut Back On His Insulin