My name is Kat Schroeder, I live in Arlington Virginia, and since the age of 9, I have been living with type 1 diabetes.
That means that every day — every hour, really — since I turned 9, I have relied on insulin just to stay alive. This insulin is currently priced at almost $300 per bottle. It is luxury pricing for a medication that I literally cannot live without.
There was a time in my life when I experienced a gap in comprehensive insurance coverage. I was forced to take drastic measures in order to get access to the insulin I needed to survive. I happened to have a friend who was a nurse in a hospital. They often have patients who are prescribed a full vial of insulin and if the patient doesn’t take it home with them, the policy is to toss it. Instead of tossing it, she would pocket it and bring it to me. That is what kept me alive.
Even with this help from my friend, I was rationing my doses of insulin, because I never knew when the next bottle would come. Without the insulin I needed, I could not properly manage my diabetes. Because of this, I now have the beginnings of retinopathy and diabetic kidney disease, which could cause me to go blind or need an organ transplant later in life.
No person should have to live day to day wondering how they are going to afford the medicine that they need to survive. It costs about $6 to produce a vial of insulin and yet the price has risen from $21 to more than $274 over the last 20 years with no change to the medication itself. Without insulin, I could die in 48 do 72 hours. Price hikes for medications like insulin have a real human cost. A 2018 study showed that 1 in 4 diabetics are forced to ration their insulin, risking complications or death.
It is my hope that this year, politicians will think about patients like me. Co-pay caps are not enough — drug pricing reform must be a top priority.