Gephardt: Many Utahns Still Paying Hundreds For Insulin Despite Law Capping Prices
SPANISH FORK, Utah – Ashley Hansen is a Type 1 diabetic, and you don’t have to tell her that insulin prices are out of control.
“The insulin for me is the most expensive part of it,” she said.
She and many other diabetics pay thousands of dollars a year, after insurance, for insulin. So imagine Hansen’s glee when she learned Utah had passed a law aimed at drastically reducing the cost of the life-saving-cocktail.
“We were really excited,” Hansen said.
The law went into effect on Jan. 1. But when Hansen went to a pharmacy in February to get another three-month supply, the pharmacist told her that price she needs to pay has not changed – around $270 per month.
“It’s not (fair),” she said. “It sucks.”
Worse, Hansen said she’s asked multiple pharmacists about why she has to pay so much — and the pharmacists all just shrug, she said.
“Well, what about this law? What do you know? And they actually didn’t know very much about it,” she said.
Frustrated, Hansen decided it was time to call the KSL Investigators.
KSL TV took it to Rep. Norm Thurston, R-Provo, who ran the bill in the 2020 legislative session.
“We knew that the state regulations would only apply to part of the insurance plans that people have out there,” he said.
While Utah does have authority over some insurance companies, others fall under federal law.
“A lot of people are on self-insured plans, or they’re on federally regulated plans,” Thurston said. “We can’t touch those as state legislature.”
But that doesn’t mean folks on federal insurance plans are out of luck.
Anticipating the issue, Utah launched a program that allows diabetic Utahns to purchase insulin at discounted rates. On UtahInsulin.net, diabetics get a code they can use to buy insulin at a local pharmacy.
It’s not necessarily as low as $30 per month — but a lot less than many are paying, Thurston said.
“Anybody in the state of Utah can get their insulin at the state’s cost, which is about a 60% savings over if you’ve just paid cash at a pharmacy,” Thurston said.
KSL TV told Thurston that Hansen said multiple pharmacists failed to mention UtahInsulin.net to her when she asked about the high price tag of her insulin.
“Yes, that is a problem,” he responded. “It doesn’t really do any good if we pass a law that people don’t know about it and can’t take advantage of it.”
Thurston said lawmakers are working with the state’s pharmacy board to try to spread the word to pharmacists — but this is a brand new law and information dissemination can take time.
“Getting information to the end of the row is often very difficult,” he said.
Meanwhile, he hopes this story will educate some. If you’re reading this and you know somebody who has diabetes in Utah, please make sure they got the word. They may be overpaying.