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Biden Calls for $35 Monthly Insulin Price Cap for All Americans

Published: 2/13/23 12:23 pm
By Natalie Sainz

During his State of the Union Address on Feb. 7, President Joe Biden called on congress to expand the cap on monthly insulin prices to all people with diabetes. 

In his annual State of the Union Address, President Joe Biden called for expanding a $35 a month cap on insulin to “every American,” including those with private health insurance. If passed, this cap could make insulin more affordable and accessible to millions of people who need it.

“There are millions of other Americans who are not on Medicare, including 200,000 young people with type 1 diabetes who need insulin to save their lives,” said Biden, alluding to the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) that only capped the cost of insulin for those on Medicare. “Let’s finish the job this time. Let’s cap the cost of insulin at $35 a month for every American who needs it.”

Biden brought the cost of insulin to the national stage last year when he made a similar call to action during his previous State of the Union Address, in which he advocated capping out-of-pocket insurance costs of insulin at $35 per month. 

Last year, Biden signed the IRA, which capped the monthly cost of insulin at $35 for the 3.3 million people on Medicare who use insulin. The bill also reduced the cost of other diabetes drugs for those on Medicare. While there were efforts to include a provision in the IRA that would have also limited out-of-pocket costs for insulin to $35 for individuals with private insurance, ultimately it was dropped from the final measure. 

Separately, during the last session of Congress, the House of Representatives passed the Affordable Insulin Now Act, which would have fulfilled this policy goal. Unfortunately, the Senate failed to act on the legislation, and the bill died at the end of 2022. 

However, with the new session of Congress underway, the legislation can be introduced, and policymakers can again seek its enactment. Biden’s recent push is to expand the policy so it applies to anyone with an insulin prescription. 

The high cost of insulin, which can potentially be over $1,300 per month for those without insurance, has been shown to impact the health of people with diabetes. One in four people who rely on insulin have been forced to ration it because they could not afford the cost each month – an estimate based on a 2018 online survey of 631 people with type 1 diabetes. Rationing insulin can be extremely dangerous, causing higher blood glucose levels and increasing the risk of death due to diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA). 

According to a 2022 Kaiser Family Foundation study, over 1 in 4 people with private insurance paid more than an average of $35 per month out-of-pocket for insulin in 2018 (that’s $420 in a year). The same study found that a cap on insulin could provide financial relief to at least one out of five insulin users with private health insurance. 

Click below for more information on how to get insulin at lower cost:

diaTribe encourages Congress to work in a bipartisan manner to bring this life-saving, much needed policy to benefit all Americans who are living with diabetes.

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About the authors

Natalie Sainz joined the diaTribe Foundation in 2021 after graduating from Carleton College with a degree in Political Science and International Relations. As an undergrad, Natalie worked in Carleton’s Office... Read the full bio »