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Department & Division News

Taking on Rising Health Care Costs

(This article first appeared in the March/April 2019 issue of the American Postal Worker magazine) 

By Health Plan Director John Marcotte

As I have previously reported, and as all of us unionists see in our paychecks, the cost of health care is spiraling out of control. Recently, ABC News reported on this issue in a story that both reinforced my outrage at drug company profiteering and broke my heart as a parent. I would like to share some of that information.

The drug industry is starting the new year by hiking the costs of hundreds of prescription medications, despite pressure against doing so from the White House. The price of insulin, a life-saving drug for diabetics, tripled between 2002 and 2013. Since 2008, three of the top makers raised the list price of insulin at least ten times. Now, the state of Minnesota is taking action by suing these manufacturers.

This lawsuit is due to the efforts of Nicole Smith Holt, whose son Alec died after trying to ration his insulin usage. This is extremely dangerous and should never be attempted. Alec turned 26 and could not stay on his parent’s health insurance. Not having his parent’s insurance forced Alec to face a $1,300.00 a month bill for just his insulin and supplies. As a young person starting out, this was an incredible burden and he attempted to lower the cost by rationing his insulin. This led to his death, alone in his home with no one to call for help.

Drug companies and health care corporations’ profits are being put ahead of working people’s lives. This has to stop. Be assured it is not just people without health insurance that are rationing drugs and care – it is affecting federal and postal retirees and workers alike as costs become unaffordable for the working class. My office constantly struggles with this problem from our health plan members.

I applaud the state of Minnesota’s efforts to hold the drug industry accountable for placing profits over lives. Providing high quality health care at an affordable price is our mission and we are 100 percent committed to doing just that at the APWU Health Plan. We will not be able to do that if health care corporations are allowed to continue extorting huge profits from working Americans for life saving drugs and services.