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Insulin costs nearly doubled between 2012 and 2016, says report

Because Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease, the attack on the insulin-producing cells, known as the islets of Langerhans, is a sustained one. | stock.adobe.com

Yearly spending on insulin for people with Type 1 diabetes nearly doubled between 2012 and 2016, according to a report released Tuesday.

The report from the non-profit organization Health Care Cost Institute found $5,705 was spent on insulin in 2016. Four years earlier, spending hit $2,864.

The spike in insulin prices has left patients worried whether they can afford to continue purchasing a drug required to survive.

In the case of one IRS employee out of work during the government shutdown, she started a GoFundMe campaign to help pay for insulin to treat her Type 2 diabetes.

“I need my insulin,” said Herlean Younce, who has worked at the IRS office in Covington, Ky., for almost 30 years. “That whole staying alive thing is really important.”

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Three years ago, the American Diabetes Association started an initiative called Stand Up for Affordable Insulin to pressure drugmakers to make insulin more affordable for patients.

Overall, annual spending on Type 1 diabetes jumped from $12,467 in 2012 to $18,494 in 2016. The report said the rise in insulin prices were a key factor in the increase in overall spending.

The report from HCCI also found average daily insulin use by people with Type 1 diabetes rose three percent during the four-year period.

HCCI is a non-profit that uses claims data from Medicare and four insurance companies — Aetna, Humana, Kaiser Permanente, and UnitedHealthCare — to study health care costs. HCCI is funded in part by the four insurance companies, said the group on its website.

Worldwide, insulin use is expected to rise 20 percent by 2030, and many patients won’t have access, said a study released last year by Stanford University. According to the study, 79 million people worldwide will require insulin to treat the disease, but only 38 million will have access.

Contributing: Chris Mayhew, Cincinnati Enquirer

Follow Brett Molina on Twitter: @brettmolina23.