Most, if not all, drug companies offer programs that provide their products for free or at a very low cost to uninsured patients below a certain income level.
For at least some insulins, the maximum income levels are quite high – Lilly's program covers patients up to about $48k for a single person or more than $100k for a family of 4.
Patients or their families need to apply for these programs on the drug companies' websites and submit documents (like payment stubs, w-2's, etc.) that indicate that they meet the income limits. Patients must re-apply each year.
Below are the links to the insulin companies' Patient Assistance Programs ...
for Humalog, Humulin, Glucogon, Basaglar, Trulicity, Cialis and Others
for Novolog, Novolin, Fiasp, Tresiba, Levemir, Glucogen & others
for Lantus, Admelog, Apidra, Soliqua, Toujeo and others
In addition, there are other companies, like Prescription Hope, that serve as intermediaries between the drug companies and the patients applying for the prescription help programs.
These intermediates charge the patients a fee ($50 per month, per medication in the case of Prescription Hope) in exchange for handling the paperwork and facilitating the application process for each company.
Here is a note about these companies copied from the top of Lilly's Patient Assistance Page:
"PPA is a Free Service: Other companies may offer to connect consumers to these same assistance programs for a fee — some of which may use our name without our permission. The Partnership for Prescription Assistance will help you find the program that’s right for you, free of charge. We will never ask for payment information."
Although the patients really are receiving the medications free from the drug companies, and the $50 per month, per medication, goes to the intermediary, the intermediary's services appear very attractive because paying $50 per month for close to $1,000 worth of insulin is a fantastic deal.
However, if the patient applies directly to the drug company, and gets approved for the same free medications, there is no monthly fee at all, and the patient will keep the $600 per year, per medication, that would have gone to the intermediary.
We're adding more specifics and links to this section. If you have information or experience with these, please let us know.
The Patient Assistance programs offer free insulin and are separate from the manufacturers' Insulin Savings Cards, which don't require that patients apply or that they have a certain income level. However, many of the savings cards have significant limitations on who can use the cards, and how much they can save.
Still, there are some Lantus cards that provide free Lantus for patients of at least some Community Health Centers, as long as they aren't on government health programs like Medicaid or Medicare.
See the particular savings card for details.
For more information on the cards in general, see the Insulin Savings Cards page,