April 3 (UPI) -- Health insurer Cigna said Wednesday it's starting a plan to cut the financial burden of buying insulin for diabetes patients.
The company rolled out a plan that cuts the co-pay for the medicine from an average of $41.50 to $25 per month. The plan, which is covered by the insurer and its subsidiary Express Scripts, began Wednesday for about 700,000 Cigna members.
"For people with diabetes, insulin can be as essential as air," Dr. Steve Miller, chief clinical officer at Cigna, said in a statement. "We need to ensure these individuals feel secure in their ability to afford every fill so they don't miss one dose."
Cigna points to a December study from Yale University that showed one in four insulin users cut back on usage due to its cost.
"The stories are really powerful, but they don't tell us how common this problem has become," the study's author, Dr. Kasia Kipska, said of how some patients try to ration insulin.
"These are not isolated incidents and ... skimping on insulin is frighteningly common."
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says there are 23.1 million people with diabetes and about 7.2 million who haven't been diagnosed. That amounts to 9.4 percent of the U.S. population.
Cigna's follows a similar move by Eli Lilly last month and federal lawmakers taking more aggressive action to fight high drug prices. The Senate finance committee recently began an investigation into the cost of insulin.