4 Insulin Assistance Programs for Medicare Beneficiaries

insulin assistance, medicare, diabetes
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Many people with diabetes were struggling to afford insulin and oral medications long before the COVID-19 pandemic began. But now, amid a global health crisis that’s led to a record-breaking unemployment rate in the United States, there’s a chance you’ve found yourself in this predicament for the first time. As a last resort, you may be considering taking advantage of a patient assistance program (PAP) from insulin manufacturers to obtain low-cost or free options.

An estimated 7.3 million people and their families in the United States could end up losing their insurance as a result of pandemic-related job losses, according to research shared in the Annals of Internal Medicine in April of 2020. This is on top of at least 28 million people who were already uninsured.

If you’re a Medicare beneficiary who struggles to pay for insulin every month, these diabetes assistance programs may help you pay as little as $0 per month. 

1. Novo Nordisk Opens Free Insulin Program to People Who Lost Insurance Due to COVID-19. 

Like Sanofi and Lilly, Novo Nordisk also offers no-cost insulin to qualified beneficiaries. Novo Nordisk covers the insulins Fiasp, Levemir, Novolog, Novolin, Tresiba, and Xultophy. 

To qualify for this program, you must:

  • Be a United States citizen or permanent resident
  • Have a household income of less than 400 percent of the federal poverty level
  • Not have or qualify for private prescription drug coverage, VA benefits, or Medicaid unless you have spent more than $1,000 on prescription drugs in the past year and have been denied Medicare Extra Help

If you meet all eligibility requirements, Novo Nordisk will send a 120-day supply of insulin to your doctor’s office along with a refill form. When you need a refill, your doctor can submit this form to you. 

Visit the Novo Nordisk site for more information and to see if you qualify. 

2. Dexcom Offers a CGM-Supplies PAP for People Who Lost Insurance Due to COVID-19

Dexcom has announced plans to launch a PAP for continuous glucose monitor (CGM) supplies for current customers who lost their insurance coverage as a result of the pandemic. Eligible participants will receive two 90-day supply shipments of Dexcom CGM system supplies for a reduced cost of $45 each. Each shipment will include one transmitter and three boxes of three sensors. Costco lists the price of a Dexcom 6 sensor three-pack at $318.54 and a transmitter at $146.04.

On May 7, 2020 James Mcintosh, a spokesperson for Dexcom, said the company had been finalizing logistics and would launch within the next several weeks. They invite people who are interested in receiving updates about the program to visit Dexcom.com/assistance and complete the interest form.

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3. Sanofi Patient Connection Assistance Program for Diabetic Medicare Beneficiaries 

Sanofi’s insulin assistance program covers the insulins Admelog, Afrezza, Apidra, Lantus, Soliqua, and Toujeo. These insulins can be provided monthly at no cost. 

To qualify, you must:

  • Be a United States citizen or permanent resident
  • Have a doctor who prescribes you insulin
  • Meet certain financial criteria
  • Not have a drug plan that covers a generic version of your insulin
  • Be enrolled in Medicare Part D, eligible for Extra Help, and have an out-of-pocket spending total that exceeds 5 percent of your annual income

If you are accepted into this assistance program, you will be eligible for one year. However, you can reapply each year you continue to need assistance paying for your insulin. 

Apply for Sanofi’s insulin assistance program

4. Lilly Cares Patient Assistance Program for Diabetic Medicare Beneficiaries

Eli Lilly and Company’s program covers the insulins Humalog, Humulin, and Basaglar. 

To qualify, you must:

  • Be a United States citizen or permanent resident
  • Not be eligible for or enrolled in Medicaid or VA benefits
  • Have spent more than $1,100 on Part D medications in the past calendar year
  • Have been prescribed insulin covered by the program
  • Meet certain financial criteria

If you are approved, Eli Lilly will ship one to four months of insulin to your doctor’s office. The company will also include a refill form with this shipment, and you must fill it out and return it before you need another refill. Eligibility for the program lasts for 12 months, but you can reapply if you continue to need assistance. 

Find out more about the program and see if you qualify

Other options to reduce insulin costs

If these insulin assistance programs won’t work for you, here are a few other options to reduce your insulin costs:

  1. Avoid filling the prescription with your insurance, check the cash price, and see if you can use a pharmacy coupon like Medicare Plus Card or GoodRx to reduce that price. 
  2. Consider purchasing a Cigna-provided Medicare Advantage plan. The company has just capped insulin prices at $25 per month. Several states have enforced similar measures; check with your state to see if monthly insulin prices are capped. 
  3. If you have it in your budget to travel, many Americans have begun traveling to Canada for cheaper insulin. Check for updates on U.S. travel to Canada at the U.S. Embassy site

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