New Cigna plan cuts cost of insulin by almost half

Henrietta Brewer
April 5, 2019

The launch of a new program by Cigna will cap the costs for a 30-day supply of insulin at $25, the health insurance company said Wednesday.

The spokeswoman said the company expects to have the program up and running for Express Scripts members before the end of this year and for Cigna plan members in 2020.

Cigna points to a December study from Yale University that showed one in four insulin users cut back on usage due to its cost. The discounts could potentially affect around 700,000 of its patients - mostly people with employer-sponsored coverage - who had an insulin claim previous year, a spokeswoman told Health 202.

A January report from the Health Care Cost Institute found that Type 1 diabetes costs alone rose from $12,467 in 2012 to $18,494 in 2016.

A health insurer says a new program will help families who have to pay for lifesaving insulin.

Cigna is one of a group of PBMs that are scheduled to come up against the influential Senate Committee on Finance in a hearing on 9 April that will focus on drug pricing - and claims that PBMs are pocketing medicine discounts instead of passing them on to patients.

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

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

The annual cost of insulin for treating a type 1 diabetes patient in the United States almost doubled to $5,705 in 2016 from $2,864 in 2012, according to a recent study. The companies said that in most cases, employers who opt in will not see any additional cost to the plan.

The program will be for eligible people with diabetes in participating health plans, the company said.

Following President Donald Trump's blueprint of lowering prices with increased competition, the FDA announced Tuesday that it intends to change how insulin is regulated to allow for more "biosimilar" or interchangeable insulin products to enter the market.

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