Breathing complications aren’t the only challenge faced by the 26 million Americans with asthma, explains a new video from the Alliance for Patient Access. Health plan coverage may steer patients toward treatments other than those prescribed by their physicians. And cost sharing can hold patients back from the medications they need – ranging from albuterol inhalers to breakthrough biologic treatments for severe asthma.
Barriers to Care
As “Access to Asthma Medications” explains, patients’ health plan designs may impede access to asthma treatment by:
- Covering only low-potency steroids, which do not work for all patients
- Not covering inhalers’ holding chambers, which some patients require
- Steering patients toward low-cost inhalers, even if a patient’s physician has recommended one that’s easier to use correctly.
Cost sharing presents another barrier. Out-of-pocket payments may undermine patients’ ability to get their albuterol inhalers or inhaled corticosteroids. And while innovative biologic medication shows promise for patients with severe asthma – for whom traditional treatments often fail – cost sharing can keep these therapies out of reach.
Access and Disparities
Because asthma is chronic, the burden of cost sharing can feel relentless. The challenge is “particularly troubling,” the video explains, because asthma disproportionately affects minority, inner-city and low-income patients. And a significant portions of asthma patients in the United States – 7 million – are children.
To improve patients’ access to asthma treatments, the video concludes, policymakers and insurers must make good on the promise of the Affordable Care Act by eliminating plan designs and cost-sharing structures that discriminate against chronic disease patients.
To learn more, watch “Access to Asthma Medications.”