Price Hikes on Life-Saving Medicine

Dear Money & Crisis Reader,

February 2017, Shane Patrick Boyle started a GoFundMe campaign to raise money for a month’s worth of insulin.

“As a type-1 diabetic, insulin is something I kind of need to stay alive,” Shane wrote on his campaign page.

“The amount I am asking is to cover seeing a doctor to get a prescription, purchasing a month’s worth [of insulin], and diabetic supplies.

“I am working on the theory that if I can get through the month of March, that will give me time to figure out a long term solution.

“Any amount of help will be appreciated.”

One month later, after his campaign came up $50 short of his goal, Shane developed diabetic ketoacidosis and died.

In June of that same year, 26-year-old Alec Raeshawn Smith was found dead in his apartment. Apparently, Alec had been “rationing” his insulin after he aged out of parent’s healthcare and could no longer afford the lifesaving drug.

Without insurance, Alec’s monthly expenses for his diabetes treatment amounted to $1,300. And insurance did little to soften that blow.

With a yearly salary of $35,000, Alec wasn’t qualified for Medicaid. And while his mother helped him find a healthcare plan he could afford, at $450 a month, the annual deductible was so high — $7,600 — it would be months before it kicked in.

Alec died less than a month after he came off his parents’ insurance, just three days before his next payday.

Go Fund Yourself

Stories like Shane’s and Alec’s have become commonplace in recent years as the price of insulin has skyrocketed, doubling in price between 2012 and 2016.

Back in the 1970s, folks suffering from diabetes could buy a bottle of insulin for just $1.49. By 2001, that price had risen to around $34. And by January of 2017 — the year Shane and Alec would die of diabetic ketoacidosis — the same vial had rocketed to $270.

Irl Hirsch, one of the nation’s foremost diabetes experts, has type 1 diabetes. He recently told WebMD that he remembers paying 75 cents for a vial of insulin in the 1960s. But today…

“Yesterday afternoon I saw seven patients, and four of them, because of the expense, were going to Canada to get their medicine,” he said in an interview with WebMD. “We’ve never had a situation where people are stretched so thin to purchase a medication they need to stay alive.”

And this certainly isn’t a small group of people we are talking about here.

According to a CDC report on trends in diabetes, “The prevalence of diagnosed diabetes increased from 0.93% in 1958 to 7.40% in 2015.”

Today it’s estimated that 9.4% of the U.S. population, some 30.3 million people, are living with diabetes — and paying through the nose for a drug they need to survive.

In 2017, American diabetes patients paid $237 billion in direct medical costs, an average of $16,750 per patient.

Today, if you search “insulin” on GoFundMe, you’ll find hundreds and hundreds of folks who are in the same boat as Shane and Alec were.

GoFundMe fundraisers

Pharma Nation

All of these folks are victims of Big Pharma’s manipulative and extortionate price hikes. Plain and simple.

And we’re not just talking about insulin here. Insulin is just the most obvious example because people need it to survive.

These rampant price hikes affect the entire U.S. health care system.

Take a look at these quick quotes:

“In recent months, many private- and public-sector leadership groups have become increasingly concerned about the performance of the U.S. healthcare system. Sharp increases in the cost of healthcare (…) have become an American reality.

“As a result, faith in the effectiveness of current government and private-sector initiatives to contain costs has been shaken. Many experts question whether any set of incremental policies can adequately address America’s seemingly intractable problems in providing health care for its citizens.”

I ripped those quotes straight from a report on the state of American healthcare by the Health Foundation.

The publishing date? January… 30 years ago.

Since then, the problem has only got much worse, with the cost of healthcare outstripping U.S. GDP every single year.

These days, for just six liters of saline solution — the fluid contained in IV bags — a hospital will charge you $546.

That’s $546 for six liters of water and about 12 teaspoons of salt.

Now, your hospital might tell you that’s because the price of manufacturing an IV bag has gone over the years.

And they’d be right. It has gone up. From 40 cents… to about $1.

The truth is: this is all part of the great American healthcare scam.

Insurance companies work with big pharma to inflate prices to unreasonably high rates. And the middlemen’s cut keeps getting bigger and bigger. Everyone gets rich. And the only person who loses out is the American people.

The solution? Well, I’m afraid the only way this gets fixed is a complete rehaul of our entire healthcare system. It needs to be rebuilt from the ground up. And the only way that’s going to happen is if the system as we know it falls apart completely… which may happen sooner than you think.

As prices continue to outstrip GDP, and the shortage of doctors considers to grow, we could be looking at a total collapse of the healthcare system any month now.

All the best,

Owen Sullivan

Owen Sullivan
Editor, Money & Crisis

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Written By Owen Sullivan

Owen Sullivan isn’t a millionaire or one of the Wall Street elite. He was just one of the many folks who was hit hard when the housing bubble burst… and decided he was never going to let that happen again. Since then, he’s worked with industry experts to develop strategies and techniques to bulletproof his finances — and yours — against the next crisis. His methods don’t require years of financial experience. These are simple strategies that anyone can follow. After all, financial prepping shouldn’t be reserved for a select few.