Groom-to-be who has diabetes dies after taking cheaper insulin to pay for wedding


  • Josh Wilkerson, who was earning $16.50 an hour, aged out of his stepfather’s private health insurance when he turned 26 and cannot afford his insulin which costs almost $1,200-a-month.
  • His doctor recommended an over-the-counter brand, ReliOn, which costs $25 a vial at Walmart.
  • His mom, Erin Wilson-Weaver, said: “It didn’t work for his body.” He died in June at the age of 27.

Josh Wilkerson aged out of his stepfather’s private health insurance when he turned 26. Like many diabetic Americans, he cannot afford his insulin which costs almost $1,200-a-month.

What the Virginia dog kennel supervisor did was rationed his expensive prescription until his doctor recommended ReliOn — an over-the-counter brand which costs $25 a vial at Walmart. Josh was earning $16.50 an hour.

His mom, Erin Wilson-Weaver, said: “It didn’t work for his body.”

On June 14, Josh died.

ReliOn, also known as “human insulin” needs extra time to become effective than the “analogue” insulin that Josh had previously been taking.

“When it comes to type 1 diabetes, people are facing unthinkable decisions — between the costs of living and their very lives,” Wilson-Weaver writes in a post for a diabetes advocacy blog.

“We figured: Hey, it’s $25. We can do that, and we’ll just work with it and try to do the best we can,” Josh’s fiancée, Rose Walters, 27, tells the Washington Post.  Last winter, Walters, who is also a Type 1 diabetic, started using the ReliOn as well.

The couple also had to switch to a cheaper brand for their blood glucose meters to keep medical prices within their budget. They hoped to save money for a rustic barn house wedding in October.

When Josh lost his childhood insurance coverage after high school graduation, his troubles began. “He couldn’t afford the maintenance or supplies for his insulin pump, so he had to make the switch back to syringes,” Wilson-Weaver writes in a blog post. When his health care changed, “Josh’s health and life really began its downward spiral.”

Wilkerson had suffered multiple strokes and was in a diabetic coma when Rose found him in June after he stayed overnight in the kennel store where he worked. His blood sugar 17 times what’s considered normal. “The staff at the hospital had never seen a blood glucose reading as high as Josh’s before,” says Weaver-Wilson.

He died five days later at the age of 27.

“The saddest thing was, when he was diagnosed, and until he was 18, his insurance provided him the best and newest care available,” Wilson-Weaver says, calling his death “absolutely” preventable.

His death illustrates the worst-case scenario for thousands of people living with diabetes in the US, the Independent reports. With analogue insulin prices nearly tripling since 2002, doctors have begun recommending the cheaper version as a stopgap — a strategy endorsed for “some patients” by the American Diabetes Association.

During the government shutdown in January, one federal worker was also forced to ration her insulin, living through the extreme fear and discomfort as she could no longer afford her copay for more.


Source: New York Post


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