WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump pondered on Tuesday whether he should be taking insulin, a hormone typically prescribed to diabetics, during an announcement for a plan which would aim to drastically reduce the price of insulin for people on Medicare.
“I don’t use insulin,” Trump said. “Should I be? Huh? I never thought about it. But I know a lot of people are very badly affected, right? Unbelievable.”
In people with Type 1 diabetes, the pancreas can’t make insulin. Those with the condition require several doses of insulin a day.
All people with Type 1 and some with Type 2, whose body doesn’t use insulin the way it should, need the drug.
Trump has no known history of diabetes.
More than 30.3 million people in the U.S. have diabetes, and 90% to 95% of them have Type 2 diabetes, according to the 2017 National Diabetes Statistics Report. Unlike people with Type 1 diabetes, those with Type 2 can in many cases lessen their dependence on insulin through healthier diet and exercise.
Asked later by a reporter why he would take insulin, Trump asked surgeon general Jerome Adams to answer, in which he explained to the president that, “Your body, Mr. President, actually makes insulin endogenously.”
He continued that “people such as you and I, we make our own insulin. So yes we do utilize insulin, but we make it ourselves.”
Trump says most senior Medicare recipients will get prescription plans that would cap copay costs, giving them access to several types of insulin at no more than a $35 copay for a month’s supply, underneath the plan announced Tuesday.
The price of modern versions of a drug that more than 7 million Americans need to live nearly tripled from 2002 to 2013, according to one study. Type 1 diabetics paid an average of $5,705 for insulin in 2016 – nearly double what they paid in 2012, according to the Health Care Cost Institute.
Costs for insulin have continued to rise, so much so that almost half of people with diabetes have temporarily skipped taking their insulin, according to a 2018 survey by UpWell Health, a Salt Lake City company that provides home delivery of medications and supplies for chronic conditions.
Contributing: Ken Alltucker, USA TODAY; Megan Henry, The Columbus Dispatch.