Cigna announces plan that caps monthly insulin prices at $25

Grant Boone
April 5, 2019

Health insurer Cigna Corp. and its newly acquired pharmacy benefit manager Express Scripts said Wednesday they plan to reduce out-of-pocket costs for life-saving insulin for some diabetic customers.

In 2018, users of insulin plans by Cigna and Express Cripts were paying an average out-of-pocket cost of $41.50 for a 30-day supply. Many patients in high-deductible health plans paid an average of about $100 per monthly prescription. The PBM is not making the program available to government-funded health plans, which often have restrictions on pharmaceutical companies' helping to pay patients' out-of-pocket costs. Express Scripts, the largest US pharmacy benefit management company, was acquired by Cigna in December. The discounts could affect up to 700,000 patients, a company spokeswoman said.

More than 1.2 million Americans live with Type 1 diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association.

At a US House of Representatives subcommittee hearing on insulin pricing Tuesday, Aaron Kowalski, chief mission officer of JDRF, a nonprofit diabetes research funding organization, called for the elimination of rebates - which make up more than 70% of the list price of insulin - from the drug reimbursement system.

A recent Yale study highlighted the effects of this issue, showing that one in four people with diabetes who use insulin admitted to cutting back on the use of the drug because of cost.

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USA lawmakers have pulled up healthcare companies over rising costs of medicine, with powerful committees in Congress holding hearings in January on insulin affordability.

One report found a jump in prices for all types of insulin and insulin products.

Congress is pouring pressure on drugmakers and pharmacy middlemen to ease steep insulin prices for patients with diabetes.

"We have people with diabetes who take insulin who are having trouble affording their insulin", said Stettin. The federal agency sees it as a way to lower prices.

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