Diabetes Blogs

The Diabetes Skies...Insulin Friendly? And, Our Need to be United

airline passengers on board airplaneVideos of United Airline's controversial removal of a passenger has sparked outrage, The DiabetesDad says there should be as powerful a reaction about the escalating costs of insulin.

Well surely by now you must have read, seen, or even heard about the passenger who was not so gently ‘bumped’ from an oversold United Airlines flight because not enough people volunteered to give up their seats to allow room for United employees to board the plane. Video footage taken by fellow passengers showing the man being physically removed—clearly against his will—went viral, of course.

The video is disturbing to see. United claims they had the right to do what they did. Legally, they may have, but I have learned that the removal protocol is to first show the regulation in writing to the passenger that the airline has selected to de-board involuntarily. An investigation is underway but at this moment, no one on the flight has come forward to say that the man was shown anything in writing before he was literally dragged down the aisle and off the plane. Millions have watched the video at the time of this writing—36 hours following the incident.

United is in the midst of a serious PR crisis and I'm not sure that even an avalanche of good PR could change the perception of what the public saw. In fact, the airlines stock has dropped a few points. Not a good day for United whose famous tag line—FLY THE FRIENDLY SKIES OF UNITED—is being bandied around by pundits and poets alike.

But looking at this through the lens of a parent with two type 1 children I had a different take on it.

Let’s say it becomes proven that the airline personnel DID NEED to show some sort of official, printed document stating that a passenger must adhere to the request of the airline and remove him or herself from the airline carrier but did NOT follow that protocol. 

My question is: “Why didn't United show the document to the passenger?” And here is my follow-up thought: A precedent has been set.The cash incentive has become so common that it's now routine—and the written document explaining the airline's involuntary removal process—has become forgotten. This recent example of failing to inform people of how and why things are happening, and then demanding they either acquiesce or face consequences is a VERY DANGEROUS place to be; and it’s happening right now in our diabetes world.

How People With Diabetes Are Like Airline Passengers

Increasing the profit margins around the cost of insulin has become the focus of the insurance carriers, retailers, health companies, insulin manufacturers, state agencies and federal agencies.These "players" have become so accustomed to the business of maximizing profits (the "procedure", if you will) that they have forgotten the protocol of taking care of the patient. It's simply nowhere to be found.

They're all connected through this vital drug—a product people with diabetes cannot live without—and the collective group's inability to move just a molecule or two, stops the world from receiving a generic form of insulin which of course would drive prices down and make the drug more affordable for the patients. 

There has been no concern or ‘protocol’ about patients. They raise costs at will—their will—and are ALL to share in the blame.

Here is the bigger problem. There isn't the equivalent of a disturbing video of someone being dragged through the aisle of an airplane. The world will not see a clip of how the unfairness of the rising costs of insulin dramatically impacts someone with diabetes in the dramatic way the world saw what happens when a passenger resists deplane-ing. 
There will not be an isolated incident that enables millions to view the impact of unaffordable insulin. There will be no reaction to the countless patients cutting back because their insulin is too expensive. There will be no investigation due to public outcry. No apology from the corporate bosses. No, it won’t be like that, will it? 
Just one by one, we will lay people back in the earth who succumb to this disease because their life-saving insulin remains too expensive and out of reach. Shame on all of us for not figuring out a way to make...that argument fly.

I am a Diabetesdad 

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