KANSAS CITY (KCTV/Meredith) — The price of insulin has skyrocketed, and what some diabetics do to get the medicine they need is simply heartbreaking and awful.
āThis is not something thatās negotiable. Itās not something Iām using for fun. Itās not something I can choose whether or not to use, I have to use it. It is imperative to my life. If I donāt have it, I die. I donāt,”
Hattie Saltzman is 22 years old. She was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes while she was in high school. She is vocal about how she survived last year when her copay jumped to $550.
āI know some people who have worse insurance coverage than I did. They might be spending $900,ā Saltzman said. āWe have to pay it or we die.ā
Saltzman began siphoning insulin off her fatherās supply with his blessing. When asked if she was bending the rules, she clarifies.
āI broke the law,ā she said. āI hope no one comes knocking on my door.ā
Saltzmanās story is a bit more complicated than simply swiping insulin. She says her doctor helped her too by sliding her dozens of shots she would crack open and insert in her pump. Technically, her doctor was bending the rules a bit too.
āYou do what you have to do,ā Saltzman said.
Saltzman also rationed her insulin.
āI was skipping doses. Just enough to where I knew I would be alive, but not be living the best life I could be,ā she said.
And then everything crashed. It turns out the rationed insulin in her pump expired and her blood sugar hit 650. Thatās more than six times the normal level.
āI could not breathe and your heart is racing. I had a headache. I had to go to the ER. It was one of the worst days of my life. I hope I never go through that again,ā said Saltzman.
Help for Saltzman can through heartbreak. A member of her church passed away. The young woman died from complications due to cystic fibrosis, and the Mills family donated Hannaās left-over insulin to Saltzman knowing her struggles.
āSo, I got five bottles of insulin, which would last me more than through the end of the year. I cannot describe how it feels to pick up an insulin vial that has somebody elseās name on it when you know that person is no longer around,ā said Saltzman.
2018 is a whole new year. Saltzman has a new insurance plan and pays just $25 a month for insulin. And the new plan doesnāt end there.
āAnything extra that I donāt need is going to other diabetics,ā Saltzman said.
Saltzman has a specific person in mind: 12-year-old named Avery Peterson, another member of her church.
Averyās copay is around $600 a month.
āIām going to be donating it. I will be donating it the rest of the year now that I know sheās in trouble,ā said Saltzman.
Saltzman is proud of how the diabetic community helps each other, but she points out generosity wonāt solve the problem.
āThere are Facebook pages, there are GoFundMeās, everybody is doing what they can to try and help this community but itās not sustainable, itās not enough. Thereās no way that we can collect enough insulin to save everybody that canāt afford it. This is just how it is and it needs to be changed,ā said Saltzman.
Many diabetics question the high price of insulin. They point a critical finger at the manufacturers.
Insulin has been around for almost 100 y