Tips on affording expensive insulin?!

Hi! I’m 36 weeks pregnant and using a ton of insulin, which means buying insulin more frequently and at $140 for a box of five humalog pens, it’s getting hard for me to afford. My levemir costs about the same, a little less. I have United Healthcare through my husband’s job. I’ve tried using those co-pay savings cards but they don’t work (I use the Walmart pharmacy). Every time I refill my prescriptions, the price always increases by at least ten dollars…I’m scared I’m eventually not going to be able to afford my meds. Does anybody have any tips on how I could get my humalog (or anything that works the same) & levemir/lantus any cheaper? Thank you!!

thanks! UHC does cover my insulin, or at least from what I understand, otherwise it would be round $700 if not more, I believe. My endo actually did increase my prescription quantity, but that doesn’t change to price. :confused:

Does the rx coverage you have through UHC offer a mail order option? Mine does and you get three months worth for one copay instead of three.

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Oh I have no idea, never heard of that! I’ll have to check :slight_smile:

Where do you live? If you live anywhere near the southern US border, consider making a trip to Mexico to buy insulin. I used to live in Mexico and would pay $10 for a pen of Novolog. And no, it wasn’t a cheap knock-off, it was the same Novo Nordisk pen you get in the US. You don’t even need a prescription for insulin in Mexico. You just go to a pharmacy and tell them what you need. So if you live anywhere near the border, it’s worth a trip. It can save you a ton of money.

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Is Humalog part of the formulary?

On my United Healthcare plan (also through my employer), the prescriptions are handled by CareMark. Humalog dropped off the CareMark formulary last year and I was forced to switch to Novolog. For me, it ended up being a pretty painless switch and the costs are significantly less.

Often when new medications (i.e. insulin) are released on the market the suppliers make “savings cards” available. If you have become insulin resistant you might consider Humalog U-200 which is new on the market and has a savings card. In this case Lilly will pay up to $100/month. That could make a huge difference to you.

ps. And you may be able to push this since you can refill your prescription 7 days early and you may be able to squeeze out $100/3 weeks savings.

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Illinois lol :joy:

I was actually taking Novolog and they switched me to Humalog a couple years ago so I’m not sure. I reckon I need to call my insurance and ask!

I’ve heard of those 200 unit pens! I’m prescribed the 100 unit pens, but I’ll ask my endo about that!

I don’t have insurance so I have to be very, very frugal with the insulin. I have found that when the pen will no longer dispense a dose, if you use a syringe to draw remaining insulin. There is usually at least 18 units more in the pen. 5 x 18, so 90 units of extra insulin available in one box of pens. I have never done the “air shot” to prime the pen. I just make sure the "air bubble is at the top away from the needle and dial up a lot of insulin at first, then bring the dial back down to the amount I actually intend to inject. There will then be a tiny drop of insulin on the needle, so you know the insulin will actually be injected. Hope that makes sense.


Are you sure of this? Air bubble is quite dangerous if inserted :fearful:

Actually, when injected into subcutaneous fat a small bubble of air is just slowly absorbed. It is harmless. The real reason to prime is to get exactly the proper dose. The real problem is when you inject into blood vessels, in which case the bubble can travel and get caught and cause a loss of blood flow in certain very critical places.

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I do this too!! :slight_smile:

Positive. I have been doing this for 3.5 years and never had a problem. Firstly, the air bubble in a pen is extremely small, but easily seen. Secondly, when pen is held so needle end down, the bubble rises to top, away from needle. If you are not sure the air bubble is moving to top, give pen a little “thump” and you will see it “rise”. I know I am getting the right dosage because if I were not, my BG would be really high, and it never is.

I’ve never had a problem, and if you google “necessity of priming pens” you will most likely find a few articles discussing the extremely small needles and that it really isn’t necessary to do that.

Having said this, if you feel you should “Prime the pen”, then you should do that. I just know that this has always worked properly for me, someone who must be very frugal. Just sharing what works for me.

If you are holding your pen horizontally to inject, then maybe you do need to do that. My pen is always at a vertical or nearly vertical orientation to the injection surface.

There is already some insulin in the needle as there is a small drop at the “business end” of the needle before injecting, doing it the way I am, further ensuring I am getting a proper dose.

It takes approximately 30 cc’s of air to actually cause a “problem in a critical organ”, an amount of air you couldn’t get from the pen. At least that is what I was taught in school many years ago… Next time you are in hospital, and I hope no one ever is, look at the IV tubing and you will see some small bubbles in that too. Those don’t cause a problem.

“Different pokes for different folks”.

I didn’t misunderstand. If there is insulin at the tip of the needle, then there is no air in the needle. I do agree, the proper dose must be injected. Either way, I was just responding to someone that needs to get every last drop from a pen.

Never would I suggest someone do what I do if they think it is unsafe.

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Injecting air instead of insulin is NOT harmless. You don’t get an accurate dose of insulin, you don’t realize why your BG is rising, you blame your CGM, your BG meter, your IC ratios, and you start tinkering with things that are not the problem. That is not harmless.

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I would also advise the same – figure out the cheapest way the insurer wants you to use, which is usually 90-day orders from a mail-order service. Your endo will need to send a separate Rx for that seller, which might be a good occasion to also put in a higher number of units per day since your needs have changed so dramatically.

Also, congratulations and best of luck in the coming 4 weeks!!! :wink: (I am 22 weeks and just hitting the insulin resistance period now.)

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And congratulations to you too!