My name is Jane and I’m from Phoenix, AZ. I’m now 65 years old, and I have lived with diabetes since I was 11.
Insulin makes up the bulk of my medication costs. This year, I watched as my copay for a one-month supply of Levemir, a long-acting insulin, skyrocketed from $20 to $180. I also take Humalog, a fast-acting insulin that costs another $120 every month, and Bydureon, a diabetes medication that costs $188 for a four-week supply. In total, I pay about $600 out-of-pocket for 14 prescriptions and diabetes supplies each month. The rest of my medications address or prevent various other complications caused by diabetes, such as high blood pressure and kidney disease.
If I were to retire, I would only receive $1,900 every month from Social Security, and there wouldn’t be much left after my drug costs. I’m lucky to be feeling healthy enough to work these days, but the fact is that I can’t retire. And yet, the fear of losing my job is real. I’ve had 15 laser surgeries to my eyes because of diabetic retinopathy. If I lose my eyesight, I won’t be able to continue working as a business systems analyst. There’s a constant level of stress knowing that I need to keep working in order to stay alive.
I’m driven to do good in the world — I was raised as a Quaker and believe in its teachings of pacifism. There are so many causes I want to support, but many would require donating either my money, which I need for my prescriptions, or my time, which is largely spent at work. If I didn’t have to worry about drug affordability, I would love to spend my retirement getting more involved with volunteer work, such as efforts to get out the vote.
Medication shouldn’t be a profit-based industry, and Big Pharma are the worst culprits. As a taxpayer, I deserve to be able to afford my medications. Our lawmakers need to take their responsibilities seriously and ensure that Americans have affordable health care.