For Young Adults With Type 1 Diabetes, Insulin Costs Can Mean Chasing Benefits, Not Dreams

Three months from now, Allie Marotta will have her birthday. The Brooklyn, New York, resident has spent her summer applying for doctoral programs in theater. But pursuit of a PhD will not just represent a step forward in her career, it could throw her a lifeline.

When Marotta turns 26 on December 10, she will age off her parents’ health insurance and become responsible not only for the typical expenses of someone her age, such as undergraduate student loans or rent, but also for the cost of a drug she needs to survive: insulin.

It’s a cliff that Marotta and others with type 1 diabetes (T1D) see coming for months or even years before it arrives. In decades past, the quest to finance insulin—and stay alive—would come earlier in a young person’s life; the Affordable Care Act (ACA) only means the search comes later. For those who live with T1D, the ACA means insurers can no longer turn them away for having a preexisting condition. But for too many, turning 26 makes this protection a chimera. Soaring insulin costs and the rise of high-deductible health plans (HDHPs) can put the best products beyond the reach of young adults living on lean budgets.

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