After years of diabetics having no choice but to pay hundreds of dollars for insulin, Oklahoma has now capped the price people are allowed to be charged, making the life-saving medication more affordable.
House Bill 1019, authored by Rep. Rande Worthen, R-Lawton, and co-authored by Rep. Merleyn Bell, D-Norman, caps the co-pay of insulin at $30 for a 30-day supply and $90 for a 90-day supply.
“Since introducing House Bill 1019, I’ve heard from many Oklahomans across the state who can hardly afford to pay the rising cost of insulin while also juggling their other bills,” Worthen said in an April news release. “This bill will save lives by making insulin affordable for those who need it.
“Nobody should be forced to choose between paying their rent and paying for their life-saving medication.”
In doing this, the Oklahoma Legislature made the medication significantly more affordable, especially when some people at times had to pay up to $1,200 for a supply of insulin, which is “obviously cost prohibitive” for many Oklahomans, Bell said.
Bell, who herself is a Type 2 diabetic, called the high prices outrageous, especially since nobody with diabetes “chooses” to go on insulin.
“Insulin is really a life or death issue for a lot of people in our state,” she said. “I’m one of those luckier people that doesn’t have to use more than one vial every month, but $30 is a lot better than $300.
“And so I’m so appreciative that there are people and our legislature, who really get ... this is affecting so many Oklahomans every single day, and their families that following what other states have done and capping that cost for people is so critical.”
According to the American Diabetes Association, more than 450,000 Oklahoma adults suffer from diabetes and diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the state. This is why it was so important to Bell to sign onto the bill, she said.
Prior to the cost being capped, people who couldn’t afford the high cost of insulin were cutting their dosage to make it last longer, leading to drastic complications, Bell said.
“By taking smaller amounts, they were putting themselves at serious risk, and you shouldn’t have to balance financial risk and your health,” she said. “You just shouldn’t have to do that. So, that’s how the bill is really helpful for people it takes that worry and anxiety out of their day-to-day lives.”