Alliance for Patient Access / What's New / ***PRESS RELEASE*** Alabama Health Plans Reject More Than a Third of Claims for High Cholesterol Treatment

***PRESS RELEASE*** Alabama Health Plans Reject More Than a Third of Claims for High Cholesterol Treatment

Health plan report card analyzes 2017 PCSK9 inhibitor claims for managed care organizations

WASHINGTON – The non-profit Institute for Patient Access released a new Health Plan Coverage Report Card revealing that Alabama insurers deny coverage for more than a third of patient claims for cholesterol-lowering drugs known as PCSK9 inhibitors. The data, captured from January to December 2017, reflects PCSK9 inhibitor claims for Alabama managed care organizations, including commercial plans, Medicare, Medicaid and managed Medicaid.

Key Alabama Findings:

  • 35% average rejection rate
  • 1,743 rejections
  • 21% appeals rate
  • Highest rates of rejection: BCBS Alabama (48%), CVS Health (45%), Express Scripts (37%), Cigna Healthcare (33%)
  • Lowest rates of rejection: Humana Health Plan (19%), State Employees Health Insurance SEHIP (8%)


PCSK9 inhibitors block the PCSK9 protein from destroying a receptor on the liver that clears bad cholesterol. By prolonging the life of the receptor, the drugs increase the amount of LDL cholesterol that’s cleared from the body. Research shows that the drug allows some patients got their LDL levels down to as low as 19. Data also show that PCSK9 inhibitors can reduce the risk of heart, stroke and death.

The therapies are approved for:

    • Patients with a genetic predisposition toward high LDL cholesterol, known as familial hypercholesterolemia
    • Those with atherosclerotic heart or blood vessel problems who don’t adequately respond to traditional treatments.


“This report is deeply troubling for patients and their providers. Health plans are blocking heart patients from accessing the medication that their physicians prescribe. These are patients who are at risk for adverse cardiac events like heart attack and stroke and who don’t respond adequately to traditional cholesterol-lowering statins. This report shows that health plans are cutting costs at patients’ expense.”



“Rejection rates are far too high, and patients who could benefit from these medications still run into access barriers. We know that one American has a heart attack every 40 seconds. Fifteen percent of people who suffer a heart attack die from it. And heart attack is one of the most expensive hospital discharge diagnoses. Health plans may think they’re reducing costs, but leaving these patients vulnerable to stroke and heart attack ends up costing everybody.”

The Institute for Patient Access report card highlights the nine Alabama health plans that process the most PCSK9 inhibitor claims, ranking them based on the percentage of rejections issued. The least patient-friendly plans were BCBS Alabama at 48 percent, CVS Health at 45 percent, Express Scripts at 37 percent, and Cigna Healthcare at 33 percent. Humana Health Plan and State Employees Health Insurance Plan SEHIP had the lowest rejection rates at 19 and eight percent respectively.

This report card is one in a series released by the Institute for Patient Access to highlight barriers to patient access.

To view last year’s Alabama report click here.

About AfPA Digital

The Alliance for Patient Access is a national network of physicians dedicated to ensuring patient access to approved therapies and appropriate clinical care.
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