BISMARCK — Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota said Monday, Aug. 26, it will examine its benefit offerings after other insurers announced plans to blunt the rising cost of insulin for customers with diabetes.
In a statement, a spokeswoman for the state's leading private health insurer said it will continue to work with its pharmacy benefits manager, its members and their pharmacies to reduce costs. She added that the insurer will "evaluate (its) benefit offerings moving forward" but didn't elaborate.
“We share in the concern around the rising cost of insulin for our members and are currently evaluating ways we can address the issue,” said Blues spokeswoman Andrea Dinneen. "The cost of insulin has continued to rise for North Dakotans and we have a large number of members that need these medications."
Blue Cross Blue Shield insures and/or administers claims for about 347,000 people in North Dakota, or about 46% of the state's estimated population, according to the company.
The Blues in Minnesota announced last week it would cover all insulin costs for certain customers starting next year, becoming the third insurer in the state to cap out-of-pocket insulin costs.
In North Dakota, Medica announced in mid-August it would cap its members' monthly payment for insulin at $25 starting next year.
The moves by insurers come amid increased public scrutiny of insulin costs. Democrats in the Minnesota Capitol have criticized Republicans failing to pass a proposal to make drug companies pay for an emergency insulin program, but GOP leaders have pointed to the insurers' recent decisions as positive developments.
U.S. lawmakers from North Dakota and Minnesota have also introduced legislation to address the rising cost of insulin.
The average point-of-sale price of insulin nearly doubled between 2012 and 2016, rising from $7.80 a day to $15 a day for someone using an average amount, according to the Health Care Cost Institute, a nonprofit funded in part by health insurance companies. The analysis didn't take into account manufacturer rebates or coupons for insulin.
More than 68,000 North Dakotans have diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association. Another 180,000 have prediabetes.