Study finds 1 in 4 patients can’t afford insulin

Results highlight urgent need to address affordability

It’s widely known at this point that patients with diabetes are skimping on insulin due to costs—but just how prevalent is it? Researchers of a new study published this month in JAMA Internal Medicine surveyed patients with type 1 and type 2 diabetes who had insulin prescribed to them within a 6-month window. Out of 191 patients who completed the survey, 51 reported cost-related insulin underuse, resulting in 1 in 4 patients experiencing cost-related insulin underuse that is associated with poor glycemic control. 

Researchers said the results highlight an urgent need to address the affordability of insulin. 

Patients who participated in the survey had outpatient visits at the Yale Diabetes Center, which serves a diverse patient population in New Haven, Connecticut, and surrounding areas. 

Researchers also found that one-third of patients who indicated that they couldn’t afford their insulin did not discuss this with their clinician, and that patients with lower incomes were more likely to report cost-related underuse. (Underuse included using less insulin than prescribed; trying to stretch it out; using smaller doses; stopping insulin; not filling a prescription or not starting prescribed insulin.)

The research team recognized that the single-center study is limited in its ability to have broader generalizability.