If you live in the US, purchasing insulin may have been a challenge before the COVID-19 pandemic. Now that businesses are closing and jobs are being lost, it may seem impossible to get the life-saving drug that you need. Thankfully the three major insulin manufacturers are offering some relief for people with diabetes who must still pay for insulin during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Novo Nordisk announced that it will provide a free 90-day supply of insulin to eligible persons with diabetes who have lost their healthcare access because of COVID-19. You must show proof of loss of coverage and a valid prescription to apply through the Diabetes Patient Assistance Program.
Further more, as of April 1, Medicare patients are no longer required to pay $1000 before being eligible for the program according to fiercepharma.com.
Eli Lilly is also offering assistance for patients using insulin in the US struggling to pay for their insulin because of COVID-19. Individuals using Lilly insulin will be able to access insulin for $35 per month regardless of them having commercial insurance. This will not apply to those seniors with Medicare Part D insurance, however. They may qualify for another program.
Those individuals using insulin manufactured by Sanofi are encouraged to contact Sanofi directly as 1-888-847-4877 to speak to a representative about their options.
How to access insulin in Canada
If you live in Canada and you have lost your health insurance, there are two options for you to access insulin.
First, you can check to see if you qualify for your provincial drug plan. Plans vary from province to province and the criteria for eligibility may also vary depending on where you live. Check with your pharmacist to see if you should apply.
If you are not eligible for access to a provincial drug plan, insulin can be purchased out of pocket for far less than they are paying in the US. Save your receipt and you will be eligible to deduct your insulin as a medical receipt on your next tax return.
More tips to help pay for insulin during COVID-19
- If you live in the US, you can purchase regular insulin through Walmart for $25 without a prescription. This insulin comes in a regular and NPH formula. Contact your diabetes care team before using either of these insulins. They are not the same as rapid acting or 24 hour basal insulin.
- Check with your pharmacy to see if there are any coupons or discounts available through the store or the manufacturer that you could take advantage of.
- Contact your doctor or diabetes team. They may have samples or coupons that they can share with you to help reduce your insulin costs.
These are challenging times. Ideally, you should have a three-month supply of insulin at home in your fridge during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many states have made this easier to do but, in some places, pharmacy boards and other companies have made such a practice impossible. For others, the high cost of insulin and deductibles make a 90-day stockpile an unattainable goal.
If you are struggling to get access to insulin, contact your diabetes care team first for help. Next, ask your pharmacy if they know options that are available to you. Finally, you can also contact the American Diabetes Association or JDRF to see if someone in their advocacy departments can offer you some help.
Canadians can access our free download of diabetes supplies that currently covered by provincial drug programs below.