Living with Diabetes, Part 2

Doubting Believer is asking our readers to make your voices heard regarding affordable insulin for all who live with diabetes. Over the next few weeks, we will have guest posts from people who live with the disease about the importance of access to life-saving medication. Links to ways you can help are found at the end of this post.

What does the Lord require of you, but to seek justice, love kindness and walk humbly with your God?

Micah 6:8

I was diagnosed with Type I diabetes just three days after my first birthday. At the time, I was the youngest person to be diagnosed with IDDM (insulin dependent diabetes mellitus). The doctors told my parents I might live to be 20. I’ll be 48 in 6 months.

I had the great fortune of having a mother who was a nurse. She kept meticulous details of my first years. What I ate, how many diapers I filled (there were no home blood glucose testing machines in the early ’70’s, so they determined my blood sugar level by seeing how much sugar was in my urine), all the details about hypoglycemic reactions, etc. I found these records a few years ago and am amazed at the level of care and attentiveness my parents gave me.

When I was a child, insulin was very affordable. A dollar or two a vial, which would last quite some time, as insulin needs corresponds with weight and food consumption. I remember when I started paying for my own insulin in college, vials were around $20. The price increase at that time had to do with the change from porcine or bovine insulin to human recombinant DNA insulin. This insulin was more effective with less side effects. A win-win for all (especially the cows and pigs).

As time and technology progressed, faster acting insulins became available, as did buffered insulins, which allowed me to use with my insulin pump. Buffered insulins were did not have to be refrigerated and were a real game-changer. Still, the costs were reasonable and manageable. Maybe $40/vial, which lasts about 2 weeks.

I do not know what changed, but all of a sudden, the cost of a vial of insulin jumped to hundreds of dollars. Mine skyrockets to $325…a vial…with insurance. The cost of my insulin went from around $1k a year to $8k a year. It doesn’t cost any more to make than before. The only difference is that the companies that make it figured they have a captive market and basic monopoly–because I and many others die without it.

Perhaps medicare for all is the solution? I have had to make significant budget choices due to this increased expense, and I’m one of the lucky ones who can still figure out a way to pay for the medicine I need.

I pray for a change.

Rob Button is a registered nurse, musician, music leader, husband and father who lives with diabetes.

Sign the petition to help protect pre-existing condition coverage at the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation.

Are you covered by United Healthcare? Let them know you are opposed to their policy to limit insulin pumps for children. Learn more here.

Sign up to become an advocate for the American Diabetes Association. Learn more.

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