As Insulin Costs Shrink, Older West Virginians Can Meet Other Basic Needs

Nadia Ramlagan

In West Virginia, older residents are no longer seeing the bulk of their household budgets go toward paying for insulin or rationing their medication.

The Inflation Reduction Act passed last year capped insulin costs for seniors on Medicare at $35 per month.

Barbara Evans Fleischauer, former member of the house of delegates, explained before West Virginia passed a state law in 2020 capping monthly insulin copays at $100, some residents were shelling out upwards of $700 each month for insulin.

She said because the cost has been capped at $35, more households are able to buy groceries, and pay their rent and utility bills. Fleischauer added while capping insulin costs has made a difference for many families, medical supplies continue to pose challenges.

“Insulin pumps cost a lot,” Fleischauer pointed out. “Continuous glucose monitors cost less, but many, many more people need them because they help Type 2 diabetics regulate their sugar.”

According to the American Diabetes Association, an estimated 219,000 West Virginians have been diagnosed with diabetes, and more than half a million residents have prediabetes, a condition in which blood sugar levels are high, but have not yet reached the threshold to be diagnosed as diabetes.

Fleischauer added she expects state lawmakers to continue working on the issue so all residents, not just those 65 and older, can access affordable insulin.

“This is one issue where both sides of the aisle can work together,” Fleischauer emphasized. “Which is a very nice feeling.”

Pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly announced it intends to slash the cost of insulin by 70%, and cap out-of-pocket costs at $35 at participating retail pharmacies for people with commercial insurance using Lilly insulin.