Medica slashes customers' insulin costs at $25 a month

Updated: August 06, 2019 07:26 PM

The issue of the skyrocketing cost of insulin is the focus of legislation at the Minnesota State Capitol and even a hot topic in the Democratic presidential race. Now, one major insurance company is taking action to circumvent the high cost by capping the cost at $25 for a month's supply for all its customers.

"This program is just one example of how Medica works to address the pressing health care issues our members are facing," Medica President and CEO John Naylor said in a written statement announcing the move on Tuesday.

Quinn Nystrom of Minneapolis has been with Medica for two years and almost couldn't believe the new program when she first read about it.

RELATED: Minnesota lawmakers agree on insulin plan but not how to pay

"I was thrilled," she told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS. "Not only for people with diabetes but for myself personally."

Last January, Nystrom says she paid $597 for a month's supply of insulin under a Medica high-deductible plan. Even after satisfying some of her deductible she still pays $233 per month. Starting in January, her cost will be capped at $25.

Still, she says the fight has to continue for diabetes patients with other insurers and those with no insurance.

"Even though we are thrilled about this news and we want other insurers to follow suit, this does not stop our fight," she said.

Minnesota state lawmakers like Rep. Mike Howard, DFL-Richfield, agrees the pressure needs to stay on insulin manufacturers to lower their prices.

"In Minnesota, in America, you should be able to afford medication you need to survive," Howard told KSTP. "So I really thank the Minnesotans that continue to raise their voices and I hope they'll continue to do so because we have much more work to do."

Two other Minnesota insurance companies say they either have programs to help insulin patients or are considering them. Blue Cross Blue Shield says it has a benefit called the 'preventive drug list' that helps patients by offering zero-dollar co-pays for drugs on the list, including insulin.

RELATED: Patients, families want answers about rising insulin costs

A Blue Cross and Blue Shield spokesman, Bryce Butzer, said: "we are continuously working to develop programs like this that further address skyrocketing insuling prices, which are set by manufacturers."

Wendy Wicks, a spokeswoman for UCare, says the high cost of insulin is also on their radar.

"UCare is evaluating ways to help members afford insulin prior to our final rate filing for individual and family plans on MNsure," she said in a written statement.

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Tom Hauser

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