United Healthcare declares ‘no reimbursable expenses’ for insulin
Minnetonka-based United Healthcare announced it will commit to having no “out-of-pocket” expenses for diabetes patients who cannot afford insulin medication starting January 1. .
The company also said it would do the same for other essential medicines, including epinephrine for severe allergic reactions, albuterol for acute asthma attacks, glucagon for hypoglycemia and naloxone for opioid overdoses.
In 2020, the Minnesota Legislature passed a bill known as the “Alec Smith Insulin Affordability Act” after Smith died while rationing his insulin supply because he could not afford the prices. which had skyrocketed in 2017. Smith was 26 and died of diabetes ketoacidosis.
Rep. Michael Howard, (DFL) Richfield, sponsored the Alec Smith Insulin Affordability Act and told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS he was delighted to hear about the steps United Healthcare is taking to reach people who need lifesaving drugs at a reasonable cost.
“It’s an exciting and positive step forward,” Howard said. “It’s a continuation of what I think many of us hope to see, that makes Minnesota, and our country, a place where if you have type 1 diabetes and you need insulin, you can get it at an affordable price.”
Howard said he would still like to see health care companies and the state legislature do more to ensure that lower drug prices for those in need become normalized.
“I still think it would be a good idea to put something like this into state law to provide that kind of permanence so people know it’s the law of the land,” Howard said.
Howard told KSTP that there is evidence that this type of legislation helps people who face tough choices when trying to budget for their prescription drugs.
“A few months ago we received a report that last year over a thousand Minnesotans used Alec’s Law to get affordable insulin at a time when they needed it most. “, Howard said.
A trade group filed a lawsuit against the state claiming that Alec’s law violated the constitutional rights of drug companies, and a federal judge dismissed that lawsuit.
However, that decision was appealed and is still pending before the United States Court of Appeals.