Health insurance company UnitedHealthcare (UHC) recently announced they will offer $0 out-of-pocket costs for albuterol and epinephrine. Allergy & Asthma Network applauds this important policy change. Albuterol and epinephrine are essential medications for people with asthma and severe allergies.
Albuterol is used to relax and open airways. It provides quick relief of asthma symptoms. Epinephrine is the first-line treatment for a severe allergic reaction, or anaphylaxis. Delaying or not taking these life-saving medications could lead to hospitalization or even death.
“Access to care and affordable medications are among our top priorities,” says Charmayne Anderson, Director of Advocacy at Allergy & Asthma Network. “We are pleased to see a major health insurer recognize this issue and help contribute to a solution. We hope to see other health insurers follow suit.”
The price of albuterol and epinephrine is an ongoing concern for many patients and families. People who are uninsured, under-insured or live in a low-income home may face significant cost barriers as a result. These cost barriers include:
- not being able to afford medication;
- not able to see a primary care doctor or asthma specialist.
Even with insurance, some people may have high copays to fill asthma and allergy medications. They may be forced to make difficult decisions. Do you risk not filling your prescription at all given the expense? Will you hesitate to use the medications in an emergency?
The UHC announcement is a positive step forward. It takes effect in January of 2023. The policy will only apply to fully insured plans. Keep in mind that many employer-sponsored plans through UHC are self-insured and employers may not opt-in. If you have a UHC plan, contact a plan administrator to find out if the announcement applies to your insurance plan.
Reducing costs of medications can also be addressed through voluntary efforts by:
- medication manufacturers;
- other health insurers;
- employers providing group health plans to employees.
Talk with your health insurer or your employer about finding solutions to high costs of these medications.
Allergy & Asthma Network continues to advocate for increased access to medications. Learn how you can make a difference by becoming an advocate.