The Daily Dose: Insulin Rationing

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Patient Care brings primary care clinicians a lot of medical news every day—it’s easy to miss an important study.

The Daily Dose provides a concise summary of one of the website's leading stories you may not have seen.

On October 18, 2022, we reviewed a study published in Annals of Internal Medicine, that examined the prevalence and correlates of insulin rationing.

The study

Researchers used data from the 2021 National Health Interview Survey, which asked adult insulin users whether, in the past year, they “skipped insulin doses,” “took less insulin than needed,” or “delayed buying insulin” to save money. Any positive response was considered “rationing” in the analysis. They assessed the responses of 982 adults who used insulin to serve as a representative sample of more than 6 million Americans with diabetes.

Results showed that 16.5% of insulin users rationed insulin in the past year, or 1.3 million adults with diabetes nationwide. Rates of insulin rationing were highest among uninsured persons (29.2%) and those with private insurance (18.8%), but lowest among those insured through Medicaid (11.6%).

Clinical implications

“By limiting insulin copays to $35 per month under Medicare, the 2022 Inflation Reduction Act may improve insulin access for seniors, who experienced substantial rationing in our study," concluded authors. "However, a similar cap for the privately insured was removed from the bill, and copay caps do not aid the uninsured. Further reform could improve access to insulin for all Americans.”

Click here for the full study review.