By Senator Kimberly Lightford
More than 1.3 million people in Illinois, or 12.5% of the adult population, have diabetes and an additional 37.5% have prediabetes – a condition of high blood glucose levels but not yet qualified as diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association (ADA). Diabetes, if not managed properly, can lead to serious complications including heart disease, stroke, amputation, kidney disease, even death.
People with diabetes have medical expenses approximately 2.3 times higher than those who do not have diabetes. The ADA reports that diagnosed diabetes costs an estimated $12 billion in Illinois each year. These figures include direct medical costs for care, but also indirect costs such as lost productivity due to diabetes.
What’s even more alarming is the impact diabetes has on communities of color. According to the Health & Human Services’ Office of Minority Health, African Americans are almost twice as likely to be diagnosed with diabetes as non-Hispanic whites. In addition, they are more likely to suffer complications from diabetes, such as end-stage renal disease and lower extremity amputations.
Disease management is critical in preventing these serious complications. However, patients who are having problems affording their medications are trying to stretch them over longer periods of time or not taking them at all, which can have devastating effects on their health.
In an effort to help people who have issues affording their insulin, Eli Lilly and Company launched the Lilly Diabetes Solution Center on Aug. 1 of this year. The goal is to provide solutions to people who need help paying for their Lilly insulin, including those with lower incomes, the uninsured and people still paying their deductibles in a high-deductible insurance plan.
Solutions are unique to individuals’ needs but can include free insulin or significantly discounted medicine. Other individuals may qualify for coverage that they were not aware of.
As a member of the Illinois General Assembly, I applaud this initiative to help our community and other communities across our state have better access to their diabetes medication.
Senator Kimberly A. Lightford represents the 4th Senate District and is the Majority Leader of the Illinois State Senate.