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Out-of-pocket cost of insulin remains a substantial burden for patients with diabetes

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The out-of-pocket burden for insulin and other health care services for privately insured patients with type 1 diabetes remains even when cost-sharing is limited, according to findings from a study published in JAMA Internal Medicine.  

The study analyzed 2018 data from patients with type 1 diabetes and at least 1 insulin claim who had employer-sponsored coverage from medium to large firms, and found that mean out-of-pocket spending for all care was approximately $2500, with 8% of patients exceeding $5000 in costs. Insulin accounted for 18% of all out-of-pocket spending.

“Findings suggest that substantial out-of-pocket burden may remain for patients with type 1 diabetes even if insulin cost-sharing is limited,” wrote the authors. “Government officials and insurers should consider improving coverage for all type 1 diabetes–related services, following the approach of a 2019 rule allowing qualified high-deductible health plans to cover services such as insulin and glucometers before deductibles are met.”

Reference

Chua K, Lee JM, Conti RM. Out-of-pocket spending for insulin, diabetes-related supplies, and other health care services among privately insured US patients with type 1 diabetes. JAMA Intern Med. 2020; doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2020.1308

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