The United States President Donald Trump announced plans to reduce the cost of insulin drastically, which means many Medicare enrollees could pay less for insulin next year.  On Tuesday, Trump revealed he struck a deal with insulin manufacturers and health care providers to reduce the current costs of the drug by 66%. Medicare recipients who chose a drug plan offering insulin will only be required to pay $35 a month starting 2021. The enrollees will save approximately $446 annually. The initiative will benefit one in three Medicare enrollees, or over 3 million people, who are suffering from diabetes. The plan will also be voluntary. Medicare enrollees who are interested must choose the plans that provide it during this fall's open enrollment. 

High Prices

The decision comes after the rapidly rising cost of insulin, rendering it inaccessible to many people who need it. In 1996, a one-month supply of insulin cost $21. In 2001, the price increased to $25. By 2016, insulin costs rose to $450 a month. The cost has continued to rise even higher since then, forcing people who need the drug to forgo treatment. 

In 2019, a diabetic 26-year-old man died after taking cheaper insulin sold over-the-counter at Walmart for $25. The groom-to-be, who was earning $16.50 an hour, was not able to afford his $1,200-a-month insulin and began rationing his treatment. His doctor prescribed ReliOn. His body rejected the treatment, and he eventually died on June 14. 

The cost of insulin has been one of the biggest concerns for consumers who have been prescribed brand name drugs sold at high prices. Roughly millions of people who suffer from diabetes rely on the drug to help maintain their blood sugars within safe levels. Skipping treatment could lead to severe complications such as cardiovascular disease, blindness, kidney failure, skin conditions, hearing impairment, Alzheimer's disease, and amputation. 

Insurance Coverage

The head of the Medicare Services claims over 1,750 plans offering drug plans to beneficiaries agreed to provide insulin for $35 a month. However, the enhanced plan may lead to a small increase in premiums. The new plan will affect a range of insulin products-including pen and vial forms. Medicare estimates six in ten receivers are already subscribed in drug plans that would include the proposed benefit. Enrollees who plan to switch can do so starting October 15. Beneficiaries who are looking to change to other plans can use Medicare's online plan finder to view which includes the new copays. The benefit will be available in all the nation's states as well as in Puerto Rico.   

Drug Pricing Bill

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi also announced a more ambitious plan for Medicare enrollees. According to the government official, she plans to negotiate prices for other costly drugs. The funds saved from the plans would go towards providing vision, dental, and hearing coverage for older Medicare recipients. According to reports, the House Speaker's bill would save Medicare over $345 billion over a decade. If the proposal passes both the House and the Senate and is signed by Trump, it will be implemented beginning 2023. 

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