Easing patient worries about therapy costs
Helping ease patients’ financial stress is why Priscilla O’Quinn loves her job. As an Option Care patient benefit navigator, she is a master at unearthing resources to ensure they can afford their medication. In fact, in one five-month period alone, Priscilla secured over $1 million in copay assistance for Option Care home and Ambulatory Infusion Suite patients from manufacturer copay assistance plans and foundation related grant dollars.[*]Savings due to the financial assistance programs referenced in this article may not be available or applicable for all patients.
“I find a way to help people in some way, shape or form,” said Priscilla. “It makes my heart very happy.”
Financial assistance can make the difference
She remembers the man with hemophilia who required life-saving IV Factor VIII protein therapy to prevent excessive bleeding. He couldn’t afford to keep his Medicare supplemental insurance and could only manage to pay a small portion of his bill each month, putting him into growing debt. Priscilla determined he qualified for a hemophilia financial assistance program and enrolled him. The program paid his bill in full and reimburses his insurance premiums.
“When I told him, he said ‘You’re an angel!” Priscilla recalls.
Priscilla constantly monitors foundations and other financial programs to assess when slots for assistance become available and uses a variety of other avenues to help patients receive monetary support.
For example, one patient on Medicare was prescribed subcutaneous immunoglobulin (SCIG) to treat her autoimmune deficiency. She was prepared to tell her doctor she just couldn’t afford the treatment – but Priscilla found a way to help her. Because the woman also had lupus, Priscilla connected her to a foundation that covers almost all of her copay for intravenous IG (IVIG) and assists in paying for her other medications too. She gladly switched from SCIG to IVIG and now pays a fraction of the cost.
Always on the lookout for opportunities
While manufacturers often have financial assistance programs, patients can’t benefit from them if they have government insurance (such as Medicare or Medicaid). So, Priscilla reaches out to foundations and other support plans and – as for the patient with lupus – evaluates if aid is available due to their other conditions. Sometimes changing the method of therapy or medication makes the difference.
Priscilla embodies Option Care’s commitment to providing patients with high quality care and support. She frequently gets calls from grateful patients looking for advice about how to pay for an expensive prescription unrelated to their infusion therapy and she always tries to help. “Money is a big concern and often stops people with serious conditions from adhering to their treatment, so we find a way to solve that problem for all of our patients,” she said. “It means so much when they have somebody who cares for them, and they can really hear it in your voice.”