Thousands of Coloradans will pay less for insulin in 2020

Published: Dec. 6, 2019 at 9:44 AM MST
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Many Coloradans will likely have more money in their pocket starting on Jan. 1, 2020. Gov. Jared Polis signed a new law into effect in 2019 that caps the price of insulin.

Now, anyone on a private, commercial health benefit plan will pay no more than $100 for a one-month supply of the drug.

"Insulin pricing has gone through the roof over the past few years," said Gail Devore, a Type 1 diabetes advocate.

Devore helped craft the new law. She and other advocates estimate it could save those who depend on insulin to stay alive hundreds of dollars per month.

"Those individuals have very few resources to afford one $350 bottle of insulin let alone three or four as most prescriptions are written for," she said.

Eagle County Democrat Rep. Dylan Roberts sponsored the bill in the state legislature. He has a personal connection to the disease. His brother, Murphy, who had Type 1 diabetes, died from a diabetic seizure in 2016.

"I knew when I came into the legislature two years ago that this was an issue I wanted to work on," he said.

Colorado is the first state to cap insulin copays, but the idea is catching on. Roberts has heard from almost 30 different states requesting information about the bill he crafted.

The new law also directs Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser's office to investigate the price of insulin and the companies that make it. According to Roberts, Weiser will recommend the next steps that can be taken to the legislature in 2020.

Advocates hope the major benefit to an estimated 6,000 families who qualify for the new copay will be less expense and less worry.

"People with Type 1 live sort of an invisible disease most of the time. It's a huge struggle and it's very expensive and shouldn't be that way," Roberts said. "Any little thing we can do makes me happy and makes a big difference."

Only plans regulated by the Colorado Division of Insurance qualify. According to DOI, one of the best ways to determine if your plan qualifies for the insulin price cap is to look for "CO-DOI" on your insurance card.

A spokesperson for DOI says the new law is not expected to lead to a rise in insurance premiums.

In December, DOI made an adjustment to the rules surrounding the law. Once the insurance commissioner signs the proposed change, which is expected to happen by Jan. 1, the $100 copay will apply to each insulin prescription.

Roberts said he intended the law to be a $100 cap per month no matter how much insulin a diabetic patient orders. He plans to introduce legislation in early 2020 to close that loophole.

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