Insulin is outrageously expensive — but that might soon change

*For some people.

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Health and Equity

Getting health care in the U.S. is pricey as hell and few people understand this better than Americans with diabetes, some of whom have to pay hundreds of dollars each month for insulin. For the past several years, insulin prices have actually gone up, with some paying upwards of $5,705 per year for medication that is truly not optional. Hopefully, their capitalist nightmare might soon be over: On Thursday, the House passed a bill that aims to cap the cost of insulin at $35 per month for anyone with insurance, including Medicare.

Surprisingly, the bill achieved some semblance of bipartisanship, with unanimous support from Democrats and a whopping 12 Republicans, per the New York Times. Now, it needs to get at least 10 votes from Republicans in the Senate before it becomes law. If this bill does get passed, one in five Americans with diabetes will be saving a pretty penny.

No one takes insulin for fun, which makes the outrageous prices that Americans have to pay — again, one vial of insulin can cost up to $250 — grossly unethical. For people with diabetes, shots of insulin are necessary for their pancreas to produce glucose and balance their blood glucose levels. Many who take insulin have to take it everyday and the prohibitively high prices lead to rationing, trying to find it on the black market or worse, deciding to go without.

Still, this bill is not a total cause for celebration. The people who have to pay the most for insulin, uninsured Americans, will not benefit from it at all. Many are criticizing the Democrats for watering down their original prescription drug package, which would have extended insulin coverage to uninsured Americans, per the Times. That bill, which had hoped to cap all prescription drug prices, is currently stalled in the Senate.

So while this is all definitely a cause for cautious optimism, we have to demand much more. No one benefits from Americans going bankrupt just trying to survive and it’s incredible that in 2022, people are still putting their life savings into essential things like insulin. Get your shit together, America.