Why Is Insulin So Expensive In The Usa

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Same Insulin, Different Prices — No Wonder Healthcare Is So Expensive

Shopping around for the best price is an effort in futility and a lesson in upside-down logic. I can purchase my insulin over the counter at Wal-Mart for $25 a vial. Yet, when I go to other drugstores, I'm in for some serious sticker shock. Costco charges about $100 for the same vial; I've seen prices as high as $128. I'm glad Medicare picks up the price of my medications, but it is still troubling when I think the taxpayers are paying the outlandish prices for something I could have bought at Wal-Mart for $25. Taxpayers would get a tremendous break if the government organized its purchasing efforts and was charged the cheapest market price for the same product. To the editor: Thanks to David Lazarus for his coverage of this important topic. No rational human who relies on a medicine to stay alive would agree with House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) about "unleashing the power of choice" as a way to keep costs down. Continue reading >>

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  1. Havis1938

    Friend of mine had family visit from USA and their daughter has diabetes so we were talking lot about it and I was really shocked when they told me they pay for insulin Humalog 100 units/mL 10ml vial almost 250USD without insurance.
    Well here in Slovakia I can have it for free - paid from public healthcare. I can also get all other diabetes supplies like pump, cartridges etc expect CGM for free.
    However the price that is public insurance paying instead of me for the same vial of Humalog is only 19€.
    You can even check it on this page: https://www.adc.sk/databazy/produkty/detail/humalog-100-u-ml-228842.html, where are all registered drugs here in Slovakia and on right side there is "Maximálna cena" which is maximum price for that vial.
    So I talked with few friends from other EU countries and in the most cases they have same final price +- 10€. And this is very big difference 250USD (228€) and 19€ for same vial.
    How can diabetics without insurance even afford to live in USA? I need at least 52-53 of these vials per year, so that would cost me 13000€ in USA and knowing your average wage, that would be 1/4 of your yearly average income just for insulin and not talking about other supplies.
    What is the reason behind this price difference?

  2. KerooSeta

    My opinion as an American and a U.S. history professor and not a medical or economics expert is that it's a result of a convergence of 1) Americans' general belief in free market capitalism, 2) a tradition of self-sufficiency that you can trace back to the Puritans, 3) long-standing rejection of socialism due to the 1920s Red Scare and the 1950s and onward Cold War, 4) relative economic prosperity following World War II, which meant that the people currently in charge of our country came of age at a time when things were very, very easy for most white people in our country, 5) a surge of power for the Republican Party that started in 1968 due to them making a pivot toward neoconservative politics, and 6) systemic discrimination and disenfranchisement of the poor along with a corporate media that keeps them uninformed and distracted.
    When you combine those things together, you get a country where the people in charge and a substantial number of voters lack empathy for anyone whose situation is worse than their own. If you have a good job like I do, your insulin might be as cheap as $10 a vial. These people have a hard time feeling sorry for someone who isn't so fortunate because our culture has taught them that they earned it all themselves. They don't understand how their tax dollars funded the schools and universities that helped them to get that job that gives them that insurance that makes that insulin so cheap or any of the other ways that the socialist side of our economy and government has been benefiting them their entire lives. To them, they are that rugged pioneer who carved out a bit of America through sheer hard work, and anyone who hasn't been able to do the same is just lazy.
    So, then companies can charge outrageous prices for drugs for the uninsured, because the insured will mostly not come to their defense. It's very frustrating...

  3. DeleteFromUsers

    Thanks for that description. Nice to hear something more in depth. It's as though America is currently riding its own coattails.

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