November 14, 2018

— Letter from CEO Derek Rapp Underscores Critical Need for Lower Insulin Costs —

NEW YORK, November 14, 2018 – On World Diabetes Day, Breakthrough T1D, the leading global organization funding type 1 diabetes (T1D) research, urged 23 of the nation’s 25 largest health insurance plans to pass savings from drug rebates through to consumers at the point of sale when they purchase insulin, as two of them have committed to do.

Earlier this year, UnitedHealthcare and Aetna announced that beginning in 2019 they would extend point-of-sale rebates to their members in fully insured commercial plans. The new letters from Breakthrough T1D ask other large health plans to do the same.

“We believe this step will substantially alleviate the intense financial pressure felt by many people who are dependent on insulin to stay alive,” Breakthrough T1D President and CEO Derek Rapp said in letters to 23 major health plans. “We also believe that it will ultimately help insurers control costs.”

Insulin prices have increased dramatically in recent years: A study in the Journal of the American Medical Association found the average price of insulin was nearly three times higher in 2013 than in 2002. The surge in insulin costs has come as more Americans have moved to high-deductible health plans, causing many people living with T1D to pay the full list price for insulin during part of the year.

Breakthrough T1D is working on a number of fronts, including direct talks with health plans, to make out-of-pocket insulin costs more predictable and reasonable. Through its Coverage2Control campaign, Breakthrough T1D has advocated to insurers, employers, drug companies and the government for affordable insulin as well as for coverage and choice of therapies to help people with T1D better control their disease. As part of that campaign, members of the diabetes community can send a letter to their insurance company urging them to pass the drug savings they receive to individuals.

“We were pleased when UnitedHealthcare and Aetna announced they would pass along drug rebates to people with diabetes, and now we are directly calling upon all plans to do so,” said Rapp.

Rapp said that while these are steps in the right direction, there is more work to be done. Breakthrough T1D strongly believes “the function of insurance is to protect beneficiaries from high, unexpected costs. Thus our request that rebates be passed through to purchasers,” he said in his letter. Breakthrough T1D is also urging plans and employers to provide insulin at low, fixed-dollar co-payments and cover it as a “preventative” drug outside the deductible to lower out-of-pocket costs.

A recent survey from the National Business Group on Health found that a growing number of large employers (27 percent) are adopting capabilities to provide point-of-sale rebates to consumers in 2019, and 31 percent are considering doing so within the next two years.

Breakthrough T1D has also long advocated the federal government for point-of-sale rebates. In late 2017, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) asked for feedback on the concept of passing rebates through to purchasers covered under the Medicare Part D program. In its response, Breakthrough T1D asserted that “CMS should establish mechanisms to ensure that the largest share possible of rebates be passed on to beneficiaries at the point of sale.”  

“Ultimately, the use of rebates should be eliminated from the drug distribution and coverage system,” Rapp said in his letter. “Until such fundamental change can be achieved, we believe that the use of rebate dollars to directly reduce costs for medications at the point of sale is the appropriate use of those funds.”

To learn more about the Coverage2Control campaign, in which more than 50,000 people signed a petition telling insurance companies to provide the coverage that people with T1D need, click here.


About Breakthrough T1D

Breakthrough T1D is the leading global organization funding type 1 diabetes (T1D) research. Our mission is to accelerate life-changing breakthroughs to cure, prevent and treat T1D and its complications. To accomplish this, Breakthrough T1D has invested more than $2.2 billion in research funding since our inception. We are an organization built on a grassroots model of people connecting in their local communities, collaborating regionally for efficiency and broader fundraising impact, and uniting on a national stage to pool resources, passion, and energy. We collaborate with academic institutions, policymakers, and corporate and industry partners to develop and deliver a pipeline of innovative therapies to people living with T1D. Our staff and volunteers throughout the United States and our six international affiliates are dedicated to advocacy, community engagement and our vision of a world without T1D. For more information, please visit or follow us on Twitter: @JDRF

About T1D

Type 1 diabetes (T1D) is an autoimmune disease in which a person’s pancreas stops producing insulin, a hormone that enables people to get energy from food. It occurs when the body’s immune system attacks and destroys the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas, called beta cells. While its causes are not yet entirely understood, scientists believe that both genetic factors and environmental triggers are involved. Its onset has nothing to do with diet or lifestyle. There is nothing you can do to prevent T1D, and—at present—nothing you can do to get rid of it.


Media Contact:

C.J. Volpe, 212-401-2136