Navigating Shadows: The Reality of Insulin Rationing and the Healing Power of Patient Assistance Programs 

September 19, 2023

Bashiyer Alasad
Bashiyer Alasad is a B.S. candidate at the University of Michigan studying Biology, Health, and Society with a Minor in Community Action and Social Change. Having been diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes herself, she maintains active involvement on campus and in the community. She currently works as a research assistant working with beta cell dysfunction and insulin secretion and has been involved in several initiatives, including JDRF’s Advocates in Action Council and the Students for Diabetes Awareness organization on her campus, to raise awareness and improve access to care for those living with the disease. With a passion for improving diabetes care and a commitment to promoting health equity, Bashiyer is bound to make a meaningful contribution to the medical field and the wider community.

Becoming the fourth and final member of my family diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes was a transformative experience. As I joined my three siblings on this journey, I quickly realized that living with a chronic illness demands an unwavering blend of strength, resilience, and determination. Unfortunately, I also came to understand that this struggle is not only physical and emotional—but also financial. 

Living with diabetes is a continuous, often invisible battle that requires meticulous management; it involves a delicate balance between monitoring blood sugar levels, maintaining a healthy lifestyle, and adhering to prescribed medications. But let’s address the elephant in the room—the cost of insulin.

My first-month supply of insulin cost over $600 out-of-pocket!

It is no surprise that so many diabetics find themselves grappling with the choice between prioritizing their health or struggling to make ends meet. I know firsthand that the hefty price tag associated with managing this chronic illness can drive individuals to make heart-wrenching decisions, such as rationing insulin. 

Insulin rationing is a desperate practice born out of necessity, where individuals deliberately cut back on their insulin doses to make their supply last longer. However, this comes with its own set of problems. Rationing disrupts blood sugar levels, causing dangerous spikes and crashes that could lead to complications. While it might seem like a quick fix for high medication costs, it’s a risky gamble that could have serious, and sometimes lethal, consequences.

No one should have to withhold their medication due to the fear of financial ruin, and people are finally starting to change this.

One such development working to combat these exorbitant prices is patient assistance programs—initiatives developed by pharmaceutical companies, nonprofits, and government entities to provide financial relief and access to medications and supplies. These programs offer a range of benefits, from discounted medication costs to copay assistance and free supplies. 

Here’s the best part: getting help from these programs is much simpler than you might expect. Prominent insulin manufacturers like Novo Nordisk and Lilly Cares offer them, and you can find all the information you need online. Additionally, is a great resource.

How to apply for patient assistance programs:

  1. Checking if you qualify (based on your income, insurance, etc.) only requires a quick internet search.
  2. Once you determine your eligibility, you can easily obtain application forms from the manufacturers’ websites or request them from customer service.
  3. Fill out the form, provide details about your income, insurance, and prescription, and you’re good to go!
  4. Submit everything online or by mail, and they’ll respond promptly. If you’re approved, they’ll guide you through the steps to get the help you need without any additional hassle. 

In a world where healthcare expenses can be overwhelming, patient assistance programs are the helping hand many of us need. They’re practical and powerful solutions that allow you to focus on your health without breaking the bank. By partnering with pharmaceutical companies, nonprofits, and healthcare professionals, patient assistance programs demonstrate that collaboration can make a tangible difference. With their user-friendly processes and commitment to improving the lives of people with chronic conditions, these programs remind us that compassion and access can revolutionize healthcare. Here’s to looking forward to a future where insulin rationing and excessive medication costs are relics of the past.


Interested in reading more about this topic?