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Insulin cap could help many northwest Ohio diabetics on Medicare

A pharmacist who specializes in diabetes says many here struggle to pay for insulin.

TOLEDO, Ohio — Starting with next year's open enrollment, President Donald Trump says Medicare recipients can enroll for a program that would cap insulin prices. 

"A lot of the time, I am seeing people because they can't afford their insulin and their doctors refer them to me as a pharmacist to try and figure out how I can get this to them, so it's a really big deal," Pharmacist and Certified Diabetes Educator Rachel Rocha said.

Rocha specializes in diabetes care at ProMedica. She often sees people who are on Medicare and don't know how to pay for the life-saving medication come into her office.

"A lot of times these people are coming to me crying, saying, 'I have to pay my mortgage still, I have to pay my gas and utilities, or my rent, I can not pay another 200, 300 dollars for my insulin,'" Rocha said.

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The cost becomes a major and sometimes dangerous barrier for her patients.

"If they're a person with type 1 diabetes and they don't take their insulin, they're risking going into DKA, which is diabetic ketoacidosis, which can be life-threatening," Rocha said.

Right now, she spends a lot of time reaching out to insulin companies, getting patients on to special programs, or even getting them coupons and free samples to get by.

A good portion of them are on Medicare and could have the option to pick a specific plan that would cap their monthly insulin cost at 35 dollars.

"When it comes time for that open enrollment, I would want to go to that medicare.gov website and type in their insulins and check out which plans are offering this," Rocha said.

For Rocha, while this helps some patients, it still doesn't solve the issue for many of her working-class patients who could have to hit a high deductible before they see any prescription price relief.

"I would love to see the overall cost of insulin come down, it has been completely inflated over the years insulin has been around a long time," Rocha said.