Blue Cross and Blue Shield Minnesota to eliminate insulin co-pays

Minn. (KARE) - A big move by Blue Cross and Blue Shield Minnesota that could help thousands of its customers living with diabetes.

The insurance company announced on Thursday that it plans to implement a $0 co-pay for insulin bought at a pharmacy.

If approved by state regulators this will begin January first.

According to the insurer, the elimination of out-of-pocket insulin spending would apply to all "fully insured" plans, and it would include individuals and families who have plans through MNsure, small employers and many large employers.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield joins two other Minnesota insurers that recently announced cuts in insulin co-pays. Earlier this month, Medica and UCare both announced that they would cap insulin at $25 for a 30 day supply, for customers on "fully insured" plans.

For perspective, the list price for insulin remains roughly $300 per vial, and many people living with Type I diabetes rely on multiple vials a month.

"There are certainly many who are not going to be covered yet, but I think this sets the bar really high," said Lija Greenseid, the mother of a child living with Type I diabetes. "As a state, we know that insulin is as essential as water and needs to be easily obtained, and I hope many other (insurers) will follow suit."

Greenseid is part of a group of affordable insulin advocates with Minnesota #Insulin4All, which KARE11 followed to Canada earlier this year, as they led caravans to Canada, to show how easy and inexpensive buying insulin is in other countries. Across the border, the women purchased the same insulin without a prescription, at one-tenth the cost of the US list price.