January 2023: Millions Of Patients Will Pay Less For Medication Thanks To Inflation Reduction Act

This Month, Insulin Copays Are Capped At $35 And All Adult Vaccines Are Free Under Medicare Part D

WASHINGTON, D.C. — January 1, 2023, marked a milestone for drug price reforms in the United States. Thanks to the Inflation Reduction Act, for the first time ever, all patients who receive their insulin through Medicare Part D (including most forms of insulin delivered via syringes and pens) now have their copays capped to $35 per month, and all beneficiaries now face $0 out of pocket for all vaccines covered by the drug program. 
“2023 marks a momentous year for patients – millions of people in the U.S. will begin to feel the impacts of the historic drug price reforms in the Inflation Reduction Act, both on their health and well being as well as in their wallets,” said ​​Merith Basey, executive director of Patients For Affordable Drugs Now. “While we’re delighted to begin the year knowing that millions of people on Medicare Part D will now have their insulin copays limited to $35 a month and will have access to free vaccines, we acknowledge that there is so much more to be done. This is just the beginning.” 
The insulin copay cap includes most forms of insulin delivered via syringes and pens (insulin delivered via pumps will be capped in July 2023). About 2.7 million Medicare beneficiaries will experience savings from the January insulin copay cap, and savings are projected to average around $850 a year per beneficiary.
“I live with high blood pressure as well as insulin-dependent diabetes,” said Patricia McKenzie, a Medicare beneficiary who lives in Lithonia, GA, and receives her Humalog insulin through Part D. “I live on a fixed income, so I have to plan carefully in order to afford my prescriptions. The new $35 copay cap for my insulin will ensure I can afford my insulin for as long as I need it.” 
Steven Hadfield lives with a rare blood cancer as well as type 2 diabetes and takes Lantus insulin. “My Lantus insulin carries a monthly list price of $283, which only adds to the large financial burden of my other drugs,” Steven of Charlotte, NC, who gets his insulin through the Part D drug program, shared. “Over the past year, I’ve gone without my Lantus at times because of its cost. Now, it will only cost me $35 which will bring me more consistency and, for the first time, lower my drug costs.”
For the millions of Medicare beneficiaries who receive vaccines each year, access to free vaccines will bring relief. Expensive vaccines such as Shingrix, which treats shingles, had cost about $200 out of pocket for Medicare beneficiaries, but are now free. And Medicare beneficiaries will continue to receive COVID-19 vaccines and boosters for free. 
“When I got my two shingles vaccines, they cost over $200 out of pocket, even with Medicare,” said patient advocate Jackie Trapp of Muskego, WI, who lives with multiple myeloma, an incurable blood cancer. “Now that vaccines are free for Medicare beneficiaries, I’m so relieved that future patients like me won’t have to spend what I did just to protect themselves from diseases like shingles.” 
All of the drug price reforms in the Inflation Reduction Act will continue to be implemented in the coming months and years. In addition to capping insulin copays and making vaccines free, drug companies will finally be penalized for raising prices above the rate of inflation in 2023. Over the next three years, Medicare will also begin to negotiate lower drug prices directly with drug companies; and starting in 2025, Medicare Part D beneficiaries will have their out-of-pocket prescription costs capped starting at $2,000 a year. 
For more information on the implementation of the drug price reforms in the Inflation Reduction Act, visit medicarenegotiation.org