Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Protecting Access to Disease Modifying Therapies in Montana

Commissioner Lindeen and MS Activist Deanna McCann
Many people living with MS rely on disease modifying therapies to delay and reduce symptoms of the disease. These medications can be very expensive, and high out of pocket costs can hinder access to treatment.

In Montana, and many other states, insurance plans typically cover these medications in specialty prescription drug tiers requiring patients to pay 20, 30, even 50 percent of the drug cost in co-insurance. The financial burden placed on patients relying on specialty tier medications is often much higher than cost-sharing for other tiers of prescription drugs and plan benefits.

An inquiry by the National MS Society and its activists resulted in a change that will make it easier for consumers to access the medications they need. The Montana Commissioner of Securities and Insurance, Monica Lindeen, investigated the cost-sharing structures proposed by insurers for 2015, and objected to some of the plans.  As a result, insurers now offer plan options with graduated co-pays, ensuring that consumers on those plans will pay no more than $250 per month for their disease-modifying MS therapies.

Press at the National MS Society office in Billings, MT
In addition, the Commissioner’s office will make sure healthcare navigators are trained to help individuals who need high cost medications select a health insurance plan that is best for their needs.

On Friday, October 10th, Commissioner Lindeen hosted a press conference at the National MS Society's office in Billings and invited MS Activist Deanna McCann to speak on behalf of people affected by MS and other chronic diseases. Deanna 
shared her story of being diagnosed as a young mother unable to pay the high cost for disease modifying medication and thanked Commissioner Lindeen for changing the way Montanans will pay for their specialty tiered medications. 

The work of activists like Deanna makes a difference in the lives of people affected by MS. The National MS Society continues to monitor insurance market plans across the country to ensure access to quality and affordable health care. As Deanna notes, “insurance coverage can be confusing to anyone.” With the help of MS activists, we can promote education, transparency, and access for people living with chronic conditions.

Read more about the press conference here.

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