Treatments covered by insurance vary among providers and can change year over year. As a result, some patients may find that a medication that was covered by their insurance in one year is no longer covered the next. Or after switching to a new job, their new insurance plan may cover their medication differently than their previous plan.
“It’s this financial uncertainty that frustrates many patients and deters them from ever getting help, from asking questions or even going to the doctor to begin with, so supporting them through those pain points is a big deal,” said Matt Widman, vice president of patient services at AbbVie.
To alleviate this burden, AbbVie offers savings cards that reduce patients’ out-of-pocket costs, rebates that reimburse patients for their out-of-pocket expenses, and other savings solutions to help eligible patients taking an AbbVie treatment. It also employs more than 300 trained insurance specialists to work with patients one-on-one. Specialists can help patients understand their insurance coverage and find the best savings opportunities available to them.
“It can take a long time for patients to even find a treatment that works for them, so when they finally find it, the cost should be the last thing they have to worry about,” said Allison Furniss, AbbVie’s director of commercial programs operations. “By helping to alleviate some of that burden, those patients are more likely to continue on a treatment that they know is working for them.”
Bridge programs that ensure no patient has to wait
Delays are another pain point for many patients and can be brought on by any number of causes. Many insurance providers require doctors to complete a prior authorization before they will agree to cover a specialty medicine. But if insurance companies don’t receive all the information they require, or if forms are not completed fully or sent to the wrong department, patients may be delayed in getting the medicine their doctor has prescribed. Sometimes, insurance companies will not cover a new treatment even after it has been approved, which can create even more delays and stress.
“Because so many different technology solutions are leveraged in health care, when manual errors occur, it’s often very difficult to figure out where things went wrong,” says Furniss. “Without any sort of intervention, patients who are dealing with painful and even life-threatening diseases, may end up waiting a long time for their medications.”
To mitigate delays, AbbVie offers a bridge program that leverages their own specialty pharmacy to bring free medication to qualified patients for the length of time they can’t access it with their commercial insurance. The program supports patients until they can receive coverage through their insurance.
"We hear all the time from patients who were at risk of not getting their medication on time. When they initially call us, many of them are scared and frustrated,” says Furniss. “But after we’re able to help them, you can just hear relief in their voice, knowing that they are able to continue taking the medication that's been prescribed to them and is working for them.”