The U.S. has a peculiar way of looking at things – we invest relatively little in children and working age populations, yet spend hundreds of billions of dollars on elderly people. The only question I have is how they expect to continue paying for Medicare drug benefits if the kids grow up and end up working for minimum wage at Wal-Mart?
Sanofi Aventis works through the Partnership for Prescription Assistance, but Novo Nordisk also has a patient assistance program (with info. in English and Spanish) which can be found at
This is a topic that is growing in importance. Approximately 45 million people in the U.S. –- 17% of the working-age population – are not covered by health care insurance. Using the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) estimates, given that roughly 6% of people in the U.S. have diabetes, of the approximately 45 million people with no healthcare cover, we can conservatively estimate that approximately 3 million people with diabetes in the U.S. lack healthcare insurance, and their prognosis isn’t good. For example, analysis of a study done in 2002 revealed that when compared to people who had health insurance, people without any form of health insurance received fewer preventive diabetes care interventions and showed generally less-desirable diabetes outcomes. Specifically, a higher percentage of uninsured people had HbA1c levels of 9% or higher; fewer had an annual blood lipid test and/or annual foot exam. It’s hard to imagine, but on average, fully one-fourth (25%) of people with diabetes go without a checkup for two years if they have been without health insurance for a year or more vs. only 5% of diabetes patients with insurance. Obviously, the cost of prescription medicines, including insulin, is especially difficult for this segment of the population to pay out-of-pocket. For example, based on IMS Health data, excluding the effect of rebates, the typical cash customer pays nearly 15% more for the same medicines than do customers with third-party coverage. For a quarter of the most common drugs, the price difference between cash and third parties is even higher – over 20%.
This is one reason I strongly support the bill S. 623/H.R. 1038, the “Access to Life-Saving Medicine Act of 2007” now pending in Congress, as it will remove the legal barriers that now prevent generic insulin from coming to market. It does not resolve the issue that test strips are the biggest scam going, (for example, Johnson & Johnson’s Lifescan unit says “LifeScan does not offer a patient assistance program at this time. We do offer rebates and trade-in allowances to lower the cost of meters to customers.” … shame on them!). Hopefully, programs in Massachusetts, California, Pennsylvania and other states will show how universal healthcare coverage can be done.