How to Get Insulin Without Insurance, Here Are Your Options!

Posted December 14, 2020 by Michael Chamberlain - See Editorial Guidelines

Insulin is an absolute requirement for many people, but what if you’re not covered by insurance? Certain circumstances can cause you to lose coverage, so what do you do? We want to provide a list of ways to get insulin without insurance.

First, here’s the quick rundown of the answer, then we’ll get into the details

How to Get Insulin without Insurance?

  1. Over-the-counter insulin 
  2. Get prescription insulins using cost reduction routes 
  3. Seek assistance from your doctor 
  4. Nonprofit PAP’s
  5. Prescription discount cards/programs 
  6. State-Based Programs
  7. Community Health Centers
  8. Pharmaceutical Co-Pay Coupons
  9. Pharmaceutical PAPs for diabetes medications

Now that we have our list of ways to get insulin without insurance, let’s dive into more specifics on each of the points.

1. Over-the-Counter Insulin

How to Get Insulin Without Insurance

There are a few over-the-counter insulins you can get if you don’t have insurance to cover your prescription insulin.

However, many regulations are behind the availability of over-the-counter insulin. Therefore, only some insulins are available over-the-counter, and they may be different from the type of insulin you need.

There are three types of over-the-counter insulin, which include regular, NPH (Neutral Protamine Hagedorn), and a premixed combination of NPH and regular. Regular insulin is considered short-acting, and NPH is considered intermediate-acting.

These insulins are quite old as they were created in the 1980s, and the price range is pocket friendly if you don’t have any insurance. 

The prices for these over-the-counter insulins range from $200 a vial to as little as $25, depending on where you buy them. However, most Walmart pharmacies will sell these types of insulin under the brand name of ReliOn for around $25 a vial.

Individuals without insurance often opt for this option because those that need insulin generally require frequent doctor’s visits to receive a prescription for insulin. And without insurance, both a doctor’s visit and the out-of-pocket cost of the common brand names of insulin can be pricey.

Is over-the-counter insulin an effective option when I don’t have insurance?

In general, getting over-the-counter insulin to manage your diabetes when you don’t have insurance is not effective, especially if you have a severe diabetes condition.

Firstly, your doctor needs to monitor your blood sugar levels regularly to recommend healthy doses and progressive therapy.

Regular and NPH insulin have different peak and duration times than many popular insulins that are generally prescribed. This makes finding the right dose for you difficult. The result of this can be severe fluctuations in blood sugar. Severe hyperglycemia or hypoglycemia can be life-threatening.

The FDA states that they are making an effort to make effective generic insulin more affordable for individuals that require insulin. However, as of right now, effective insulins are difficult to come by over-the-counter.

2. Get Prescription Insulin Using Cost Reduction Routes 

You can, of course, get prescription insulin by paying the full cost if you don’t have insurance. This may be the most effective option if you can afford your prescribed insulin without the help of insurance.

You don’t need to have insurance to get a prescription, as many misunderstand. You can visit a doctor and get a prescription without any insurance coverage. 

Paying the full out-of-pocket cost for the prescribed insulin means that you do not have to worry about the effectiveness of over-the-counter insulin. This is because you know that you’re taking the right insulin at the end of the day, which suits your condition and not a cheap alternative.

However, insulin is still expensive, and getting the most effective insulin without insurance can be way too expensive for many. So, you can check for the following options, which can, to some extent, reduce your full cost.

  • Opt for generics and biosimilar insulins, which are low cost comparatively. 
  • Vials can be cheaper than pens
  • Check for older versions of the brand-name insulin

For all this, you will need to request that your doctor prescribe one of these options after discussing your financial condition and if they can give the same effect as the insulins prescribed.

3. Seek Assistance from Your Doctor to get Insulin Without Insurance

Discuss your financial situation, and not having insurance with your doctor thoroughly. 

Upon doing this, your doctor may consider enrolling you in some of their discount programs or consider changing your prescription to a generic or other low-cost alternative medication/formula which can still be effective.

Your doctor may also write you a prescription for a larger quantity of insulin, which can help reduce your overall cost.

This discussion can also help you get free samples of vials or pens available at the doctor’s office. This might offer a short-term solution until you find other means to cover your insulin costs or look to explore other methods

4. Nonprofit Patient Assistance Programs

How to Get Insulin Without Insurance

Nonprofit organizations run several patient and insulin assistance programs.

These programs help with low medication costs. Depending on the organization, the criteria for enrollment may vary. Often these programs prioritize their efforts towards those that are in most need.

5. Prescription Discount Cards or Discount Programs

Some pharmacies offer prescription discount cards or discount programs, which can reduce the cost of prescription drugs like insulin.

Each discount program or the discount card has different details, conditions, and prices, depending on the drug and the pharmacy offering the program.

6. State-Based Medicaid Financing

If you qualify for Medicaid, then you can contact your state’s Medicaid office. If you qualify, then the program may be able to lower the price you pay for your insulin or provide financing options.

The qualifications and guidelines may differ from state to state.

7. Community health centers

This is a center that provides medical care for anyone with or without insurance. This will give you the benefit of a sliding scale payment option, which may reduce your insulin cost to some extent. However, the cost to use this center is tied to your income. 

8. Pharmaceutical Company Co-Pay Coupons

Some pharmaceutical companies offer co-pay coupons.

This is aimed at reducing your out-of-pocket cost at the pharmacy, which is beneficial if you don’t have insurance to get expensive insulin. 

They can often be used for one or two years before you must re-sign.

You can check your insulin manufacturer’s website or call them to check if they offer such coupons. 

9. Pharmaceutical Company Patient Assistance Programs for Diabetes Medications 

Some pharmaceutical companies offer a reduction in insulin cost through certain drug assistant programs, also known as patient assistance programs (PAP). Every program has different requirements and enrollment criteria. 


We hope this has provided you with some real options and alternatives for getting insulin without insurance.

If you’re having trouble affording any of your medications, then Prescription Hope may be able to help. Enroll with us and see if you qualify to pay only $50 a month for each of your medications.