After a medical diagnosis, each patient finds themself on a unique journey. Working with their health provider to figure out the right treatment option is the first step. Next, comes figuring out how to access the therapy they and their doctor have decided is right for them.
Along the way, patients must navigate an insurance landscape that is both complex and ever evolving. And while the environment around them is changing, patients might also be adapting to changes in their own lives. For example, a person may lose or find a new job, or experience other life changes that impact their coverage and ability to pay for their medicine.
All these factors can make the process of getting medications stressful. But the good news is, it doesn’t have to be.
With a deep understanding of the friction points that affect patient experiences, AbbVie offers robust product support focused on helping patients access and manage their prescribed treatment with greater ease. Its product support solutions include health literacy, injection support and technological tools designed to help patients adhere to their prescribed treatment plan.
But the programs AbbVie offers to help lower the financial and logistical barriers that block many patients from accessing or continuing their prescribed therapies can often be a lifeline to getting better. Read on for three ways AbbVie is helping patients get the medications that they and their doctor agree are right for them.
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.”
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.”
Sudden life changes like the loss of a job or loss of health insurance can make accessing medication even more stressful. To help patients who have difficulty paying for their medicine, AbbVie offers myAbbVie Assist, its long-standing patient assistance program. The program provides free AbbVie medicine to qualifying patients with limited or no health insurance coverage.
“This program provides benefits that one could never quantify with numbers. Helping others is invaluable, and my gratitude is overflowing,” said one Texas patient.
In 2020, nearly 155,000 U.S. patients received free medicine through the program.
“We want people to get the medicine that they need and patients dealing with life-threatening illnesses or chronic diseases shouldn’t be worrying about costs – they should be able to focus on improving their health,” said Thad Smith, director of patient access programs at AbbVie.
Whether through savings programs or providing free medication to those who need it most, AbbVie strives to make it easier and less frustrating for patients to get the medications they and their doctor have chosen. Their solutions integrate with other product support tools – such as mobile apps, product education materials, and items that allow a patient to easily travel with their medication – to deliver an added layer of support for patients through the course of their prescribed treatment journey.
“Bottom line: We want patients to feel empowered and take ownership of their treatment, and we’re committed to standing up the most relevant programs to help patients do that,” said Widman.