LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (News release) ― The average cost of an insulin prescription in Arkansas rose by more than 50% between 2013 and 2018, according to a new analysis by the Arkansas Center for Health Improvement.

ACHI used insurance claims information within the Arkansas Healthcare Transparency Initiative to determine the annual average cost per insulin prescription in Arkansas. The average cost rose from $401 in 2013 to $617 in 2018, an increase of 54%.

“Many Arkansans are struggling to afford the medicines they need,” said ACHI President and CEO Dr. Joe Thompson. “There is evidence that some Arkansans have been taking less than their prescribed doses of insulin because of rising costs. This is troubling because for many with diabetes, access to insulin is a matter of life and death.”

More than 30 million Americans have diabetes. In Arkansas, there were nearly 288,800 adults with a known diagnosis of diabetes in 2014.

Patients and advocacy groups have complained about the price of insulin, which has been skyrocketing across the country. Much of the recent debate in Congress and state legislatures over drug pricing has centered on the high cost of life-saving insulin. Lawmakers in at least two states, Colorado and Illinois, have approved state caps on insulin prices.

For purposes of ACHI’s analysis, the average cost of insulin includes the amount paid by the insurer plus the patient’s out-of-pocket cost, which varies based on the insurance plan. The cost does not reflect manufacturers’ rebates or coupons. The average days’ supply per prescription is 34.3 days.

The review was confined to insulin prescribed to patients with private insurance.

ACHI is a nonpartisan, independent health policy center that serves as a catalyst for improving the health of all Arkansans through evidence-based research, public issue advocacy, and collaborative program development.