New Washington law sets $100 cap on copayments for insulin

Many Washington residents with diabetes will have an easier time affording insulin this year, as a law imposes a $100 cap on patient copayments.

The law applies to any health-care plan issued or renewed after Jan. 1 that covers insulin drugs. It includes language to protect people who have "high deductible" insurance from paying more than $100 per 30-day supply, the Seattle Times reported.

About 686,000 people in Washington state have diabetes, and 226,300 rely on insulin. In 2017, diabetes was the seventh leading cause of death in the state, according to the state Department of Health.

The law, sponsored by Sen. Karen Keiser, D-Des Moines, was approved by the Legislature in March to ease a crisis that can lead to medical complications. Studies show an estimated-one quarter of patients ration the medication because of cost or difficulty obtaining steady supplies.

Diabetes is a potential risk factor for COVID-19 complications.

The American Diabetes Association has praised the Washington law and urges state governors "to ensure continuous access to health care for residents with diabetes who have lost their jobs to the economic impact of the pandemic."

The copay cap lasts through 2021 and 2022. Many hope state lawmakers can come up with long-term cost solutions for consumers before the cap expires.

The American Diabetes Association lists seven states as having approved co-pay caps as of spring 2020: Washington, Colorado, Illinois, Maine, New Mexico, New York, Utah and West Virginia.