The Coronavirus pandemic has already begun to affect drug supplies.

Planning for a coronavirus outbreak and quarantine.

As the novel coronavirus COVID-19 continues to spread in the United States, many people are understandably concerned about access to their medications. Health officials and medical professionals working in federal, state and local governments recommend that high-risk individuals with underlying health conditions such as Type 1 Diabetes, stock up on their prescription medications, in addition to practicing basic hygiene and avoiding crowded places. 

As a result, some U.S. health insurers have begun to allow patients to order a larger emergency supply of their routine medications, easing their tight restrictions in light of the current pandemic. But acquiring an advance supply of important medications isn’t always as simple as walking into your pharmacy and asking for it. 

So, you may be wondering… what you can do to avoid running out of prescription medicine and get your medication refilled?

Health insurance companies typically have limited the allocation of diabetes medications to a 30-day supply with strict guidelines regarding refilling; usually, only a few days before the 30-day supply expires. While an individual with diabetes can bypass health insurance and order directly through the pharmacy, or mail order,  the prices of diabetes medications such as insulin, make that strategy cost-prohibitive in many cases.

Fortunately, given the breadth and severity of the coronavirus pandemic, health insurance companies like Blue Cross Blue Shield, and Aetna are relaxing their 30-day refill requirements so that people will have a 90-day supply of diabetic medication at their disposal. 

Emergency legislation eases restrictions

On March 6, 2020, America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) said it was “activating emergency plans to ensure that Americans have access to the prevention, testing, and treatment needed to handle the current situation”. 

Therefore, people with diabetes should initially contact their doctors and pharmacies, followed by their insurers in order to obtain a 90-day supply of their diabetic medications, and if there are further issues, or there are problems of costs and co-payments, individuals can reach out to their respective federal, state and local government officials for assistance.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises that you make a list of all your prescription drugs, including the dosage amounts and generic equivalents. As of this moment, there’s no formal guidance on exactly how much extra medication people should have on hand.

However, it’s important to remember to not panic-buy excessive amounts, as high levels of stockpiling or hoarding can lead to group panic and shortages. Finally, and most importantly, keep your medications safely so they don’t get lost, thrown out, or expired due to environmental conditions.