Americans Are Dying Because They Can’t Afford This Med

Image: Marrik, CC BY-SA 4.0

Candidates are shunning donations from Big Pharma.

Are they finally ready to take on drug prices that are climbing through the roof?

Addy Baird, Mar 17, 2019

ThinkProgress.org – Once a month, Sarah Stark makes the trip to her local pharmacy to pick up the insulin she needs to keep her diabetes in check.

She has health insurance through her job and uses a $100 manufacturer’s coupon to help defray the cost. Even so, she ends up paying a whopping $728.40.

Stark, 28, is not the only one to experience sticker shock when making the purchase. Invariably, the pharmacist who rings her up is taken aback by the price of the medication, and asks if she’s certain she wants to complete the purchase.

Not that Stark really has a choice. She’s a type 1 diabetic who has had the ailment since childhood. She’s willing to pay the price for her daily dose of insulin, even though it poses financial hardship.

RELATED: You Must ASK Your Pharmacist To Get A Lower Price

“Those out of pocket costs add up,” Stark said during a recent interview with ThinkProgress. “Not a lot of people could afford that co-pay… and I’ve seen them have to walk away.”

The issue is a matter of life and death — and it’s one Stark says deeply informs the choices she makes at the ballot box.

“I one hundred percent vote with my pancreas,” she said. “One of my values is that health is a human right. I’m not interested in a candidate who doesn’t feel that way.”

Insulin pricing may seem like a niche issue, but it’s one that affects millions of people across the country.

As the 2020 Democratic primary field grows, a few candidates have latched onto the rapidly spiraling price of the medication as a campaign issue, revealing the range of ideas in the party for addressing monopolies and reforming the health care system.

More than 30 million people in the United States have diabetes and as of last year, an estimated 7.4 million people like Stark used insulin daily, according to the American Diabetes Association. Read more. 

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