Jay Wilkerson Died Taking Over-The-Counter Insulin — Here's His Tragic Story

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Who Is Jay Wilkerson? New Details On Engaged Man Who Died While Taking Over-The-Counter Insulin

The healthcare system in this country needs serious reform — there's no question about that. And there's no better reason as to why that's so than to consider the case of a 27-year-old man who recently died after taking over-the-counter insulin. Who is Jay Wilkerson?

Let's look at what we know about this unfortunate tragedy. 

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1. He switched to cheaper insulin to save money for his wedding. 

According to The New York Post, Jay Wilkerson initially decided to switch to a cheaper form of insulin — known as "over the counter insulin" — so he could save up some money for his upcoming wedding. Wilkerson, a diabetic, was required to take insulin daily and frequently. 

2. Jay Wilkerson was only 27 years old. 

According to The Washington Post, Jay Wilkerson was only 27 years old when he lost his life. The outlet reports that he suffered a series of mini-strokes that would ultimately claim his life because the over-the-counter insulin wasn't suitable to keep his diabetes under control. 

3. He had "aged out" of his father's insurance plan, and could no longer afford proper insulin. 

According to The Independent, another reason Jay Wilkerson chose to take over-the-counter insulin was because he had "aged out" of his father's insurance plan the previous year, and could no longer afford to pay for "name-brand" insulin. The over-the-counter brand of insulin only retailed for $25 at Wal-Mart, which is one-tenth of the price of "regular" insulin. 

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4. Critics say Jay Wilkerson's death is proof-positive the American healthcare system needs a major overhaul. 

"ReliOn can take up to four hours to metabolize and regulate blood sugar levels — as opposed to prescription insulin that takes 20 minutes — meaning planning doses has to be precise. “The fact that it takes so long to kick in? It scared me a little,” she said, explaining that once Wilkerson started taking it, he experienced severe stomach problems and mood swings. “Something in him, you could just tell, was different,” Walters remarked. “I would tell him, ‘Check your blood sugar,’ and he would check it, and it would be high," reports Country104, who adds that the American healthcare system "kills people" because it forces people to choose between life-saving medicines and basic living expenses. 

5. His "real" insulin would cost him $1200 a month to live. 

According to The Insider, had Jay Wilkerson gotten himself the "real" insulin that he needed, he would have to spend $1200 a month to get it. And since he no longer had insurance, it would all be an "out-of-pocket" expense. 

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6. Jay Wilkerson's death should inspire us all to do something. 

While Jay Wilkerson's death is a tragedy, it's also inspired people to force their lawmakers to change the laws for the better. 

"In May, Colorado became the first state to prevent insurance companies from charging more than $100 for a 30-day supply of insulin, regardless of the amount or type of insulin they require. In July, a group of U.S. senators introduced the Insulin Price Reduction Act, which (if it passes) would set up incentives for manufacturers to not increase their prices beyond the price of the same product in 2006 and require private insurance plans to allow people with high-deductible plans to pay the standard copay for insulin even if they haven’t hit their deductible," reports The Mighty, an outlet that focuses on diabetes activism.

Our thoughts are with Jay Wilkerson and his family during this difficult time. 

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Bernadette Giacomazzo is an editor, writer, and photographer whose work has appeared in People, Teen Vogue, Us Weekly, The Source, XXL, HipHopDX, The Los Angeles Times, The New York Post, and more. She is also the author of The Uprising series. For more information about Bernadette Giacomazzo, click here.