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Paying for Insulin

Every person with diabetes should have access to affordable insulin. Whether you are in immediate need of insulin or want to explore your options, check out our comprehensive list of resources below.

Jump to resources specific to you:

Immediate access to insulin

I need insulin now 

  • If you are in emergency need of insulin right now, always go to the emergency room.

  • At Walmart, you can buy insulin for $25 without a prescription (“over-the-counter”) and without insurance. It comes in a 10mL vial and is called Novolin ReliOn Insulin. It is offered in both regular human insulin (“R” – for use at mealtime) and NPH (“N” – a longer-acting basal insulin). You can also get Novolin at CVS Pharmacy for $25 per 10 mL vial through the Reduced Rx program. It takes just seconds to enter your email and receive a discount card (which you can print or show digitally) that you can then use immediately at 67,000 participating pharmacies nationwide, including CVS Pharmacy, Walgreens, and Walmart.

    • Note that NPH and regular work differently from analog insulins: 

      • NPH lowers blood glucose over a period of more than 12 hours (its “duration of action”), and its peak glucose-lowering effect is at 4 to 6 hours. 
      • Regular insulin lowers blood glucose over a period of 6-8 hours. It peaks around 2-4 hours, and it is best taken 15 minutes before eating or right after eating a meal.
    • Because of these differences, be sure to discuss your decision with an experienced physician before transitioning to one of these insulins. Improper usage of these insulins can result in increased risk of severe hypoglycemia and DKA.
  • Visit a community health center in your area that can help you access insulin at a reduced cost. They provide treatment regardless of insurance coverage and have a sliding scale payment option, which means your medical cost is related to your income. 

  • Call 1-800-DIABETES and press 5 to speak to an American Diabetes Association representative to learn about your options, available Monday–Friday 9 am to 7 pm ET. They can connect you with appropriate resources in your area and can answer questions in English, Spanish, or any language with a language interpreter service. (Please note that ADA representatives can only answer non-medical questions. If you are in need of emergency medical service, call 911.) 

  • Manufacturer hotlines/options 

    • Lilly: Call 1-833-808-1234, Monday–Friday 9 am-8 pm ET. The Lilly Diabetes Solution Call Center Helpline provides personal assistance for finding your lowest cost option (as long as you take a Lilly insulin: Humalog, Basaglar). 

    • Novo Nordisk: Call 1-800-727-6500 for product inquiries and to speak to a representative.

    • Sanofi: Call 1-888-847-4877 to speak to a representative about financial challenges and how to get connected to the medicines and resources you need.

Long-term options for affordable insulin

  • Ask your health care professional for samples of vials or pens. While may not be a long-term solution, bringing this up can also open the conversation to discussing changing brands or formulas, getting a larger prescription, and documenting need for assistance programs. See below for more details on various assistance programs and resources!

I have private/commercial insurance but need help paying for my insulin

  • Co-pay cards are offered by drug companies to help reduce out-of-pocket costs for medications. If you qualify, you can use these cards at the pharmacy counter to receive discounts on your medication. 

    • Novo Nordisk Savings Cards – find savings cards for Fiasp, Novolog, Tresiba, Levemir, and Xultophy.

    • Sanofi Copay Program:

      • Lantus – $0 copay with maximum savings up to $600 per pack (i.e. 5 insulin pens) up to 3 packs per fill (i.e. you can get 3 boxes containing 5 insulin pens each when you visit the pharmacy, with $200 in savings per box). After 12 fills, you must obtain another savings card. 

      • Toujeo – $0 copay for the first 3 fills, then $10 copay for the next 12 fills; maximum savings up to $600 per pack up to 3 packs per fill.

      • Apidra – Pay $0 if your co-pay is $100 or less; if your co-pay is more than $100, Sanofi covers the first $100.

      • Soliqua – $0 copay with maximum savings up to $800 per pack up to 1 pack per fill.

    • Lilly Savings Cards:

      • Humalog U-200 Kwikpen – pay as little as $25 for your prescription.

        • Applies for up to 24 fills prior to program expiration. Save up to $100 per month. This is available for those with insurance who do not receive government reimbursement for their prescriptions.

      • Basaglar – pay as little as $5 per month for your prescription.

        • Applies to each of your first 24 prescriptions. Boehringer Ingelheim and Lilly pay up to $150/month. This offer is invalid for patients whose prescription claims are eligible to be reimbursed, in whole or in part, by any governmental program. Check the back of your Lilly Savings Card for additional details/restrictions.

      • Trulicity – pay as little as $25 for your prescription.

        • This offer is not available for people without commercial drug insurance coverage or those whose prescription claims are eligible to be reimbursed, in whole or in part, by any governmental program. Lilly pays up to $150 per month, depending on insurance. See here for additional terms and conditions. 

  • MannKind has two programs to reduce costs of their inhaled insulin, Afrezza. 

    • Co-Pay Program: provides an Afrezza savings card that lets you pay as little as $15 for your prescription.

    • Direct Purchase Program: reduces costs for people paying retail prices or high out-of-pocket copays for Afrezza.

  • CVS Pharmacy Reduced Rx – a discount card that can be used at more than 9,700 CVS Pharmacy locations. Exact savings depend on the medication. As an example, a 10ml vial of Novolin will cost $25 with the Reduced Rx program. For someone paying out-of-pocket, this represents a potential savings of up to $100.

  • For help with navigating changes in insurance without losing access to care, read our article here.

I have Medicare, Medicaid, or Veterans’ Affairs benefits

Eligibility requirements for many Patient Assistance Programs currently do not allow people with government insurance to enroll. However, some people may qualify for resources under the “I am uninsured” section below, especially if you are on Medicare Part D. Call your medication’s manufacturer to determine whether you can qualify for their programs. 

I am uninsured

  • The three insulin manufacturers – Lilly, Novo Nordisk, and Sanofi – offer Patient Assistance Programs (PAPs) for people who are uninsured and meet income eligibility requirements. These programs provide insulin at no cost: 

  • Sanofi Insulins Valyou Savings Program offers any of their insulins (Toujeo, Lantus, ADMELOG, and Apidra) for $99/month to those who qualify. This is a good option for those who do not have commercial insurance and do not qualify for Sanofi’s Patient Connection Program. Unlike the Sanofi Patient Connection Program, the Valyou Savings Program does not use income level to determine eligibility.

  • Costco has its own discount prescription program that may cover the medication you need if you use Costco pharmacies. 

  • Insulin Lispro, a generic version of Humalog, is available in US pharmacies for $137.35 per vial and $265.20 for a package of five KwikPens (half the price of Humalog). If you have a prescription for Humalog, you do not need an additional prescription for Lispro. Lispro is not currently covered under insurance. 

  • CVS Pharmacy Reduced Rx – a discount card that can be used at more than 9,700 CVS Pharmacy locations. Exact savings depend on the medication. As an example, a 10ml vial of Novolin will cost $25 with the Reduced Rx program. For someone paying out-of-pocket, this represents a potential savings of up to $100.

Other Resources

I want to explore my options

  • State Pharmaceutical Assistance Programs – A search engine hosted by medicare.gov where you can search by state to see if your state offers help paying for medications.

  • Pharmaceutical Companies Assistance Programs – A search engine hosted by medicare.gov where you can search by medication to find manufacturer assistance with paying for medicine. 

  • Mat.org – A search engine that allows you to search by medication to find patient assistance programs based on your individual circumstances.

  • Rx Assist – A website that lists pharmaceutical assistance programs, state programs, discount drug cards, copay help, and more.

  • Needy Meds – A database of pharmaceutical and healthcare assistance programs.

  • Blink Health – A company that offers discounted prices for many medications with free local pick-up or delivery.

  • GoodRx – A database of current medication prices and discounts that lets you search for the cheapest pharmacy in your area.

  • FamilyWize – A company that offers discounted prices for medications and allows you to compare prices between different pharmacies.

  • Inside Rx – A website where you can search for discounted prices on many medications.

  • Rx Hope – A website that helps people get medications free or for a small co-pay.

  • SingleCare – A website where you can search for discounted prices on many medications.

  • Benefits Check Up – An organization that provides a website where limited-income seniors can search for help with medicines, health care, rent, and other needs.

If you want to learn more about access to diabetes care, click here.

If you want to read The diaTribe Foundation's position on insulin affordability, click here.