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Patients say costs determining factor in their treatment decisions

June 10th, 2009
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Seventy-three percent of insured patients receiving assistance from Patient Access Network (PAN) Foundation reported that health care costs are influencing their medication and treatment decisions more this year than last. Nearly half of these said that cost is having a “very big” or “big” impact on whether they seek treatment or fill prescriptions. 

The results were part of a 2009 patient survey to determine the effects of the economy, the impact of PAN assistance on patients’ lives and their satisfaction with PAN services. PAN helps insured individuals make copayments for medications for 21 specific diseases, including certain cancers and a number of chronic illnesses.

 “Our patients do have health insurance; many have Medicare, and yet they still can’t meet all the out-of-pocket costs required for life-sustaining medications,” said Lyn Boocock-Taylor, chair of the PAN Board of Directors. “The needs of our patients and of the estimated 25 million underinsured people nationwide simply must be considered in the current health care reform debate.”

For a number of patients struggling to meet medical costs, timely PAN help sometimes means the difference between life and death, as a cutaneous T-cell lymphoma patient from Colorado wrote: “I was dying because I did not have the means to fight my cancer…thanks, thanks, thanks.”

For others, like a rheumatoid arthritis patient from Texas, PAN’s assistance eliminated their need to make tough financial choices, saying that: “[With PAN help] I do not have to choose my treatment over other bills that need to be paid.”

Patients receiving PAN assistance also reported a striking 28 percent increase (from 71 to 99 percent) in their ability to comply with physicians’ medication orders, because of their copayment assistance for vital medications and infusions.  Failure to take prescriptions as prescribed often disrupts the medication’s helpful effects and can lead to negative consequences such as hospitalization.

Patients said that the copayment assistance reduced family financial and emotional strain, improved their overall health and ability to take medications as prescribed and sometimes sufficiently improved their health allowing their return to work or education.
 
“We know patients are struggling, but these survey results confirm that we are truly reaching those who need help and making a difference in their lives,” said Julie Reynes, President of PAN.

Additionally, PAN enjoys a patient satisfaction rate of 97%.  Patients say that PAN’s professional case managers staffing the call center are compassionate and helpful.