Does Medicare Cover Insulin?

by David Bynon, last updated

Prescription medications can be difficult to keep up with financially, especially when needed to treat a chronic condition, like diabetes. Insulin in particular has suffered from skyrocketing prices over the past few years. Fortunately, as of January 2021, Medicare introduced the Senior Savings Model to place a hard cap on insulin prices in participating Medicare Part D plans.

This article will explain how the Senior Savings Model works and how much insulin costs with a participating Medicare Part D plan. We’ll also explain how you can get help with the remaining costs after your Medicare Part D plan has paid its share.

Key Takeaways

  • Insulin is used to maintain a healthy blood sugar level when your body cannot produce enough on its own.
  • Medicare Part A and Part B do not cover insulin unless it is for use with an insulin pump.
  • Enhanced Medicare Part D plans participating in the Senior Savings Model program help limit a month’s supply of insulin to $35.
  • Medicare Part D plans will also cover insulin injection supplies for a small copayment.
  • Medicare Advantage Plans that come with Part D drug coverage will also cover a monthly supply of insulin for its members.
  • Part D plan members that need Extra Help with out-of-pocket costs for prescription drugs may qualify for Social Security’s Low-Income Subsidy (LIS) program.

What Is Insulin?

Insulin is a naturally occurring hormone that your pancreas produces for regulating your blood sugar, also known as glucose, the body’s primary source of energy. Insulin maintains your blood sugar levels by storing away excess blood sugar in the liver and will release the stored glucose to keep things perfectly balanced. However, if you have a condition that interferes with your natural insulin, such as diabetes, then you will need to inject insulin in order to supplement and balance your blood sugar, “Diabetes treatment: Using insulin to manage blood sugar“, Accessed January 3, 2022

How Does Medicare Cover Insulin?

Original Medicare (Part A and Part B) does not cover prescription medications, including insulin. The only exception for insulin coverage through Original Medicare is when you require an external insulin pump for your treatment. In order to get coverage for an insulin prescription, you will need a Medicare Part D, “Insulin“, Accessed January 3, 2022

Some Medicare Part D plans do not cover insulin at all. Those that do cover it in one of the higher cost tiers, making it expensive. The exact medications a Part D plan covers, and the copayments or coinsurance you’ll pay at the pharmacy, are based on the plan’s, “What Medicare Part D drug plans cover“, Accessed January 3, 2022

Fortunately, CMS is responding to the serious cost impact of insulin and diabetic supplies on Medicare Beneficiaries. Through the Part D Senior Savings Model, Medicare beneficiaries have an increased choice of enhanced Part D plan options that offer lower out-of-pocket costs for insulin. Under this new program, the price of a month-long supply of insulin is capped at $, “Part D Senior Savings Model“, Accessed January 6, 2022

The Senior Savings Model will continue through December 31, 2025, and contribute to the modernization of Part D benefits. The following pharmaceutical companies are participating in the model:

  • Eli Lilly and Company
  • MannKind Corporation
  • Mylan Specialty L.P., a Viatris Company
  • Novo Nordisk, Inc. and Novo Nordisk Pharma, Inc.
  • Sanofi-Aventis U.S. LLC

Medicare Advantage plans are widely embracing the new program. Plans that offer an enhanced Part D plan may participate. The MedicareWire Plan Finder tools for Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part D highlight participating plans.

Low-Income Subsidy – Extra Help

Social Security’s Low-Income Subsidy (LIS) program, also known as Extra Help, can help qualifying Medicare beneficiaries with their remaining costs for their prescription, “Find your level of Extra Help (Part D)“, Accessed January 3, 2022. If you qualify for full Extra Help from Social Security, your copayment for insulin is lower than a month’s supply under the Senior Savings Model. If you get partial Extra Help, you pay a small deductible (up to $92 per year), after which you pay a 15 percent, “Insulin“, Accessed January 3, 2022


While Original Medicare will not normally cover your insulin prescription, a Medicare Part D plan in your area will. And if it is part of Medicare’s Senior Savings Model program (very likely), you will only need to pay $35 for a month supply of insulin.

If you want to find out if your Part D plan is part of Medicare’s Senior Savings Model program, or if you want to check the level of Extra Help you qualify for, you can call a Medicare professional at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227).  TTY users can call Medicare at 1-877-486-2048.


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