Editor’s Note: This has been amended to correct a reference to the Medicare Part D drug benefit that was offered to seniors.
The White House-backed plan to reform the Affordable Care Act this week emphasizes reducing costs for diabetic care.
In response to a request by executive order for information on the supply chain for insulin, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb has indicated that the agency is making plans to send staff to hospitals to review audits and find out if the purchasing is being accomplished within the rules of the law.
Government data show that between 1 million and 2 million people have diabetes. At least one of every nine Americans is diabetic.
In addition to being expensive and life-threatening, diabetes is a major burden on Medicare, which is the largest health insurance program for seniors. Two-thirds of individuals with diabetes end up needing long-term care.
For so many people with diabetes, preventive care, weight loss and other lifestyle changes—provisions that would eliminate long-term nursing home costs—are available and should be promoted.
For many others, insulin is the single most cost-effective way to control blood sugar levels. As the head of the Diabetes Partnership Task Force wrote in a recent email to members, “Most people with diabetes will benefit from cheaper, better, less frequently prescribed insulin.”
Yet insulin is among the most expensive drugs covered by Medicare, and the outlook is even more grim for those with multiple diabetes conditions.
It’s not just skyrocketing costs that are placing an unsustainable burden on Medicare or society. Meantime, as this report in Kaiser Health News shows, 60 percent of adults with diabetes in the United States have multiple diseases—a larger proportion than in other wealthy countries.
This makes health care coverage—insulin and its costs—a critical public health issue that receives too little attention in Congress.
This situation represents a unique opportunity for the scientific community to understand how insulin costs and compliance with treatment for diabetics affect their lives, health outcomes and their costs of care for the most expensive group of health care beneficiaries.
Please click here to learn more about Public Citizen’s program to study and inform diabetes care costs and their effects on the cost of our national health care system.