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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 an 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: People who are in emergency situations – at risk of rationing insulin and need insulin immediately to prevent serious danger – may be eligible for a free, one-time, immediate supply of up to three vials or two packs of pens of Novo Nordisk insulin. If you have a prescription for Novo Nordisk insulin and find yourself in this situation, you can call Novo Nordisk at 1-844-NOVO4ME (1-844-668-6463) or visit NovoCare.com for help. People who use this emergency resource will be directed to Novo Nordisk's other affordability options to find a longer-term solution. 

    • 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 this 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!

  • Some insulin manufacturers offer a generic version of a branded insulin (often referred to as "authorized generics") for a discounted price. 

    • Lilly offers Insulin Lispro, a generic version of Humalog, for purchase in US pharmacies at 50% off the cost of Humalog for $137.35 per vial and $265.20 for a package of five KwikPens. If you have a prescription for Humalog, you do not need an additional prescription for Lispro. Lispro is not currently covered under insurance. 

    • Novo Nordisk provides Follow-On Brands (authorized generics) for 50% off the cost of the current branded versions – Insulin Aspart, a generic version of Novolog, and Insulin Aspart Mix, a generic version of Novolog Mix. Prices are listed in the table below. People with a prescription for Novo Nordisk insulin can order these lower-priced versions at the pharmacy without needing to get a new prescription.

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

  • Copay 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. These savings programs are not available to those who receive government-sponsored insurance (e.g., Medicaid, Medicare, Medicare Parat D). Most copay card savings programs are easy to apply for and receive, as they require answers to a few basic eligibility questions. 

    • Novo Nordisk Savings Cards:

      • Fiasp – Pay as little as $25 per 30-day supply for up to 24 months (with a maximum savings of $100 per 30-day prescription). 

      • Novolog – Pay as little as $25 per 30-day supply for up to 24 months (with a maximum savings of $100 per 30-day prescription). 

      • Tresiba – Pay as little as $5 per 30-day for up to 24 months (with a maximum savings of $150 per 30-day prescription). 

      • Levemir – Pay as little as $45 per 30-day supply for up to 24 months (with a maximum savings of $100 per 30-day prescription). 

      • Xultophy – Pay as little as $30 per 30-day supply for up to 24 months (with a maximum savings of $400 per 30-day prescription). 

    • Sanofi Copay Program:

      • Lantus – Pay as little as $0 and no more than $99 for a 30-day supply, based on your insurance coverage. You can use this copay program to get one fill (up to 10 packs per fill) per 30-day supply. After 12 fills, you can get a new savings card. 

      • Toujeo Pay as little as $0 and no more than $99 for a 30-day supply, based on your insurance coverage. You can use this copay program to get one fill (up to 10 packs per fill) per 30-day supply. After 15 fills, you can get a new savings card.

      • Apidra – $0 copay with a maximum benefit of $100 off per pack, depending on your out-of-pocket costs. Up to 1 pack per fill. The savings card expires after 12 fills, after which you can get a new savings card. 

      • Soliqua – $0 copay with a maximum benefit of $800 off per pack, depending on your out-of-pocket costs. Up to 1 pack per fill. The savings card expires after 12 months. 

    • Lilly Savings Cards:

      • Humalog U-200 Kwikpen – Pay as little as $25 for your prescription. This program applies to each of your first 24 prescriptions. Lilly will pay up to $100 per month. The savings card expires after 12 months. 

      • Humulin R U-500 KwikPen – Pay as little as $25 for your prescription (not including syringes). This copay savings card can be used for up to 12 fills, with max. 7 KwikPen packs and 2 vials per prescription fill. You can receive up to $8,400 in total savings per year. The savings card expires after 12 months.

      • Basaglar – Pay as little as $5 per month for your prescription. This copay savings card can be used for up to 24 fills (with each fill being a 30-day supply) prior. Lilly will pay up to $150 per month. The savings card expires after 12 months.

      • Trulicity – Pay as little as $25 for your prescription. This copay savings card can be used for your first 26 prescriptions. Lilly will pay up to $150 per month. The savings card expires after 12 months

    • MannKind

      • Afrezza (inhaled insulin) – This program provides an Afrezza savings card that lets you pay as little as $15 for your prescription.

  • Novo Nordisk's My$99Insulin Cash Card Program provides 3000-3800 units (three vials or two packs of pens) of Novo Nordisk analog insulin (NovoLog, Levemir, Tresiba, Fiasp, Novolin) for $99 for up to 12 months. Note: all people (who are insured under commercial/private plans, insured under government plans like Medicaid and Medicare, and uninsured) are eligible for this program. 

  • 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. 

  • Novo Nordisk's My$99Insulin Cash Card Program provides 3000-3800 units (three vials or two packs of pens) of Novo Nordisk analog insulin (NovoLog, Levemir, Tresiba, Fiasp, Novolin) for $99 for up to 12 months. Note: all people (who are insured under commercial/private plans, insured under government plans like Medicaid and Medicare, and uninsured) are eligible for this program. 

    • There may be additional eligibility requirements for those covered under Medicare Part D; however, this savings program is one of the few that includes government insurance beneficiaries. 

  • Through Lilly's Patient Assistance Programs (PAPs)LillyCares, people who are covered under Medicare Part D, have spent $1,100 on prescription medications this calendar year, and meet the income and other eligibility requirements. 

  • Medicare.gov also provides a list of ways to get help with prescription costs. 

  • Limited-income seniors can search for help with medicines, health care, rent, and other needs at Benefits Check Up

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: 

  • Lilly, Novo Nordisk, and Sanofi have additional insulin savings programs for people. 

    • Sanofi Insulins Valyou Savings Program offers up to 10 vials or pens per fill of any one or multiple Sanofi insulins (Toujeo, Lantus, Admelog, and Apidra) for $99/month to those who qualify. Unlike the Sanofi Patient Connection Program, the Valyou Savings Program does not use income level to determine eligibility. The Insulins Valyou Savings Card is valid for 12 consecutive monthly fills. Only people who do not have insurance are eligible for this program. 

    • Novo Nordisk's My$99Insulin Cash Card Program provides 3000-3800 units (three vials or two packs of pens) of Novo Nordisk analog insulin (NovoLog, Levemir, Tresiba, Fiasp, Novolin) for $99 for up to 12 months. Note: all people (who are insured under commercial/private plans, insured under government plans like Medicaid and Medicare, and uninsured) are eligible for this program. 

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

  • 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.