Insulin therapy is a standard treatment for those who have diabetes. Over the past few years, the cost of insulin has steadily increased and can be upwards of $300 a vial without insurance. There are many ways to save money on insulin, including patient assistance programs, insulin alternatives, and matching services.
Another way you can save money on insulin is through membership with Mira. For as little as $45 per month, members get access to up to 80% off over 1,000 different medications, including insulin, as well as low-cost urgent care visits and same-day lab testing. Everyone deserves to have affordable health; sign up for Mira today.
10 Ways to Save Money on Insulin in 2021
Insulin therapy is a life-saving treatment for those who have diabetes. Without insulin, diabetes can be deadly, resulting in dysregulation of blood sugar levels and storage of glucose for energy. Due to rising prescription drug prices in the United States, insulin is relatively unaffordable, especially when paying without insurance. One vial of insulin can cost upwards of $300.
There are many reasons for these high insulin prices, most of which are because there are only three big insulin producers. These companies account for more than 90 percent of insulin production worldwide, creating an insulin monopoly. Most insulin products have patents, so there are no cheaper generic versions available. Even without patents, 'generic' insulin is costly to manufacture, so companies are not incentivized to make it.
Due to these high costs, there can be a lot of stress when paying for insulin. Many people forego treatment because they cannot keep up with the expense, which can be detrimental to their health. Luckily, we have found several resources to help you save money on insulin therapy.
1. Patient Assistance Programs
Pharmaceutical manufacturing companies have created Patient Assistance Programs to provide more affordable medications to those unable to afford their products. Each manufacturer has its list of requirements for eligibility for their program, but most will require proof of lack of insurance or coverage for the medication. The three leading companies that produce insulin in the U.S. each have an assistance program.
Lilly Cares Foundation Patient Assistance Program
The Lilly Cares Foundation Patient Assistance Program provides Eli Lilly products for free for up to 12 months to qualifying patients. In the past 20 years, they have helped over one million people in financial need of medications. To qualify for the program, you must:
- Have no insurance, or have Medicare Part D
- Be a permanent, legal resident of the U.S., Puerto Rico, or the U.S. Virgin Islands
- Be prescribed a qualifying Eli Lilly medication by a healthcare provider
- Not be enrolled in Medicaid, full Low-Income Subsidy, or Veterans benefits
- Meet the household income guidelines
The household income guidelines will vary depending on the type of medication you are looking to obtain. Make sure to read carefully before applying.
Novo Nordisk Patient Assistance Program
The Novo Nordisk Patient Assistance Program provides medication to those living with diabetes at no cost to qualifying patients. There is no charge for participating in the program or applying, making it accessible to all individuals. To be eligible for Novo Nordisk's program, you must:
- Be a U.S. citizen or legal resident
- Not be enrolled in or qualify for any other federal, state, or government program such as Medicaid
- Have no insurance or have Medicare
- Have a household income at or below 400% of the federal poverty level
Sanofi Patient Assistance Connection
Sanofi Patient Assistance Connection provides Sanofi prescription medications at no cost to those who qualify for the program. This is made possible through Sanofi Cares North America. To be eligible for the program, you must:
- Be a resident of the U.S. or U.S. territories
- Have no insurance coverage or no access to the medication through your insurance
- Have a household income at or below 400% of the federal poverty level
- Spend at least 2% of your annual household income on prescription medications if you are enrolled in Medicare Part D
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2. Copay Savings Cards
Copay savings cards are another savings program you can use to access insulin at a lower cost. These are savings programs offered by drug manufacturers for expensive drugs with no generic equivalent. This program helps those who have commercial health insurance but are still struggling with the cost of their insulin. Two of the above manufacturers have this program: Novo Nordisk and Sanofi.
Novo Nordisk can help you save lots of money, giving you the possibility of paying as low as $25 for a 30 day supply of NovoLog. However, you can only take advantage of these savings for up to 24 months, and the maximum amount of money you can save is $100 per 30 day supply. You can apply on their website to see if you fit the eligibility criteria.
Sanofi allows those with an Affordable Care Act (ACA) insurance plan to be a part of their program. Depending on the product you use, you can save up to $365 on your medication. The savings are as follows:
- Apidra: as low as $0 copay, max savings up to $100 a pack, up to one pack per fill
- Lantus: as low as $0 up to $99 for a 30-day-supply, depending on your insurance coverage. Valid up to 10 packs per fill, one fill per month.
- Soliqua: as low as $9 copay, max savings up to $365 per pack, up to 2 packs per 30-day-supply
- Toujeo: as low as $0 up to $99 for a 30-day-supply, depending on your insurance coverage. Valid up to 10 packs per fill, one fill per month.
You can read more about applying on their website.
3. Together Rx Access Card
Leading pharmaceutical companies created the Together Rx Access Card to help those without insurance better afford prescription drug prices. It can help people save about 25-40 percent on medications. These savings can be applied in their local pharmacies and used on both brand-name and generic drugs. It is entirely free to get and also free to use. Most pharmacies nationwide accept these cards and will calculate the savings at checkout. This can be used in conjunction with patient assistance programs as well.
To qualify for the card, you must meet all three of the following eligibility requirements:
- Have no prescription drug coverage (of any kind)
- Not eligible for Medicare
- Have a specific household income depending on your family size
4. Non-Branded Insulins
Two leading insulin manufacturers offer non-branded insulin alternatives to their products: Eli Lilly and Novo Nordisk. Non-branded medicines, referred to as authorized generics by the FDA, are approved brand name drugs that are marketed without the brand on the label. They are created by the same companies that make brand-name drugs and therefore are not the same as a typical generic drug.
Eli Lilly produces Lispro, a non-branded version of Humalog. It has a 70% lower listing price than Humalog (starting in 2022) and is identical to Lispro in its composition.
Novo Nordisk offers non-branded versions of their products: NovoLog and NovoLog Mix. These are referred to as Insulin Aspart and Insulin Aspart Mix, respectively. These cost 50% less than the brand names available at pharmacies. They can be ordered through your local pharmacy.
5. Speaking With Your Healthcare Provider
Another great option to save you money on your insulin products is to speak with your healthcare provider. If you are diagnosed with diabetes, make sure to ask your doctor questions about the cost. If you are struggling to afford your medication, your doctor may have free insulin samples or have emergency insulin on hand to hold you over until you need your next supply. A healthcare provider may be able to direct you to other cost-saving alternatives to help keep you healthy.
6. Walmart's Insulin Aspart
Walmart has created its insulin product to help people save money on this expensive medication. It is an insulin aspart manufactured by Novo Nordisk and is called ReliOn Novolog. Insulin aspart is a man-made short-acting insulin. The product is available in both a vial and a Flex Pen. Respectively, it costs $72.88 per vial and $85.88 per box of five pens. While this is specific to Walmart, other pharmacies may carry similar products. If you are interested in this cost-saving option, speak with your healthcare provider to see if it's right for you.
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7. Coupons/Prescription Discounts
Coupons and prescription discounts are another way to save money on expensive prescription medications. One place you can access these savings is through MiraRx. For $45 a month, you'll get access to up to 80% off over 1,000 different prescription medications, helping you save on insulin and your other medicines. Members can also get low-cost urgent care visits and same-day lab testing. While the savings may not be as extensive as other programs, there are no eligibility requirements for the service. This may be a great option if you are struggling to meet the criteria of the above programs. All you have to do is sign up!
8. Matching Services
Matching services are another cost-reducing tool for insulin. There are many programs out there that will provide free or low-cost insulin for those who use specific types of insulin. Each program will have different eligibility requirements. Below is a list of common insulin matching services:
- RxAssist: A matching service to connect patients with current forms and applications for patient assistance programs and other cost-reducing services. It also answers frequently asked questions about patient assistance programs and potential eligibility requirements, giving you all the information you need in one location.
- NeedyMeds.org: A database of cost-saving programs for an array of prescription medications. You can narrow your search by entering your location or the kind of insulin you are looking for. The resources provided offer low-cost or free insulin to patients.
- Medicine Assistance Tool: A matching tool that connects patients to cost-sharing programs to help reduce out-of-pocket costs, regardless of whether you have insurance or not. You must enter the medication you are looking for and demographic information like your location, age, and yearly household income.
- RxHope: A matching service very similar to RxAssist. You can begin your search by the medication, assistance program, or drug manufacturer. It provides you with eligible patient assistance programs, as well as an application for you to print and fill out.
- GetInsulin.org: A matching service that helps you find ways to afford your insulin products. It is in partnership with the major insulin manufacturers. To get started, you have to provide your location, the insulin you use, and the level of insurance coverage that you have. It will provide you with an action plan for saving.
9. Pharmacy Loyalty Programs
Many pharmacies nationwide offer loyalty programs, like savings cards or clubs. These programs help their members get discounts on medications and other store products by earning points for past purchases. Walgreens' program, for example, allows anyone to sign up for their program regardless of their insurance status. Members can save on cash purchases only. CVS has a similar program, known as 'ExtraCare.' While some of these programs may not provide immediate savings, you may receive cash back at the end of the year that you can keep or save for other products.
10. Speaking with Insurance Provider
The final way you can save on insulin is by speaking directly with your insurance provider if you have one. By calling and talking to a representative, you can ask if the company has a preferred insulin product. If you can switch to this option after speaking with a doctor, the insurance company may offer this product at a lower cost than others.
Insulin is an expensive prescription drug in the United States and only continues to rise in price. Especially if paying without insurance, the price of insulin can be extremely high. Luckily, many tools and programs are available to help you save on insulin, including patient assistance programs, matching services, pharmacy savings cards, and even insulin product alternatives.
Are you looking for other ways to save on your health? Mira provides low-cost virtual and urgent care visits, up to 80% off prescription medications, and same-day lab testing for as low as $45 per month. Your health is essential- sign up for Mira and start saving today.
Talor graduated from Penn State University with a B.S. in Biobehavioral Health, and minors in Spanish and Diversity & Inclusion in May of 2022. She has a passion for health equity and diversity in health. In the future, Talor hopes to work in public health policy reform to help eliminate health disparities. She enjoys reading, cooking, and listening to podcasts in her free time.