Friday, May 23, 2014

Patient Access Network Foundation – A Free Financial Resource for Underinsured Patients

By Amy Niles
Director of Patient Advocacy and Professional Relations, Patient Access Network (PAN) Foundation

For thousands of patients diagnosed with cancer and chronic illnesses, one of the first questions regarding their treatment and quality of life is, “How will I pay for this?” Patients who have been just getting by or even those who consider themselves fully financially stable often find themselves unable to afford the out-of-pocket costs associated with their prescribed medications. For many, the Patient Access Network (PAN) Foundation may be able to help.

Founded in 2004, the PAN Foundation is a nationwide, independent nonprofit dedicated to providing financial assistance to underinsured patients, or patients who have insurance but still face financial hardship in affording complex specialty medications. PAN has provided nearly $400 million in assistance to more than 250,000 patients across our nearly 60 disease-specific programs including a program for patients living with HIV/AIDS.

Patient Access Network (PAN) foundation

What is PAN assistance?
PAN provides grants to qualifying patients to help pay for the out-of-pocket portions of their qualifying medication costs. There is no cost to the patient or their healthcare provider to receive assistance from PAN. Once a patient is approved, PAN allocates a certain amount of money, $500-$10,000 varying by disease, that patients have access to for 12 months. When a patient receives a treatment or medication, their healthcare provider or specialty pharmacy submits a claim to PAN for the co-pay or coinsurance amount not covered by the patient’s insurance – allowing patients the peace of mind to continue their therapy without worrying about submitting reimbursement claims to PAN. PAN also features what we call a 90-day look-back, which means if a patient has incurred qualifying expenses at any time during the 90-days prior to their grant approval, PAN will reimburse them directly through their grant.

Who can qualify for PAN assistance?
PAN eligibility is often far more generous than most charity-care type programs, as we understand that the cost of specialty medications can be a burden even for those well above the poverty level.  While criteria vary per disease-specific program, generally patients with household incomes at or below 400-500% of the federal poverty level ($62,920-78,650 for a family of two) are eligible to receive assistance. Patients must be insured and some programs require that patients have Medicare insurance. Patients must be diagnosed with one of the nearly 60 diseases for which PAN operates a program and must reside and receive treatment in the United States. Assistance is only available for mediations that treat the disease directly.

What assistance is available for patients living with HIV/AIDS?
Patients with HIV/AIDS can receive $4,000 per year to assist with the out-of-pocket costs associated with their medications. To qualify for assistance:

  • A patient must be insured and insurance must cover the medication for which patient seeks assistance.
  • A patient must reside and receive treatment in the U.S.
  • The patient’s income must be at or below 500% of the Federal Poverty Level ($78,650 for a family of two).

How to apply for PAN assistance:
PAN has developed multiple application routes, all delivering patients’ eligibility determinations in under one minute, so patients know instantly whether they have been approved for assistance.

  • To apply online, visit and select “Online Application.”
  • To apply over the phone, call 866-316-PANF (7263). Representatives are available 9:00 am to 5:00 pm eastern time.
  • Physicians and Specialty Pharmacists have access online portals where they may apply on behalf of patients and manage their grant and claims electronically. 

To learn more about Patient Access Network and PAN’s assistance programs, visit

Saturday, May 17, 2014

The Southern Epidemic

By Anna Meghan Nunn
Intern from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, Department of Public and International Affairs

The ADAP Advocacy Association (aaa+®) released an important White Paper on the impact of HIV/AIDS in the South, entitled “THE SOUTHERN EPIDEMIC: Are the South’s cultural, political and societal barriers making it difficult for public health programs, such as the AIDS Drug Assistance Programs, to function effectively in this region?” Its purpose is to examine why people living with HIV/AIDS in this region of the country often must overcome major obstacles simply to access basic healthcare needs, more so than any other area.

Map of the United States, with the southern states colored in red and the AIDS Ribbon moving toward these states.

During “The Perfect Storm” — a label used by ADAP stakeholders to describe the severity of the AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP) waiting list crisis that ravaged the program from 2008-2012 —nowhere in the U.S. was the HIV/AIDS crisis more apparent than the South. At any given moment in the crisis, nearly 95% of the people living with HIV/AIDS being denied access to care and treatment resided in the South. At the height of the ADAP crisis, eight of the twelve states that instituted waiting lists were in the South; most of them in the Deep South.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that there are approximately 1,144,500 people aged 13 years and older living with HIV infection in the U.S. today.  The southeastern United States has seen a disproportionate impact of HIV/AIDS in their communities, especially over the last decade. In 2011, eight of the southern states accounted for the ten states with the highest new HIV infections in the country.  Furthermore, southeastern states accounted for 50% of HIV infections that year.  To put that in perspective, it is important to note that this region accounts for only 37% of the U.S. population. There are numerous contributing factors behind these alarming numbers. This region of the country has historically been known to have retained a deep and distressing culture, evidenced by violent civil rights struggles, high poverty rates, poor education systems, deeply engrained religious traditions, and limited access to healthcare.

In the South many societal, economic, and geographic constraints collide to create a “Perfect Storm,” which ultimately creates barriers to healthcare. Some of these factors include:

Race and discrimination
Poverty and education
Sexual orientation and stigma

The complex dynamics of these factors not only impact access to adequate healthcare, but create a great deal of stress for State ADAPs in this region. By race African Americans are the largest group affected by HIV/AIDS. In fact, in 2010 new HIV infection rates among African Americans were 8 times that of whites. This is a trend we are beginning to see within the Latino community as well. The South is also home to a large amount of individuals living in poverty. In addition, this region typically has below average literacy levels. Both poverty and poor education are associated with lower access to healthcare and negative health outcomes. An additional cultural factor weighing on HIV/AIDS infection rates in the South is the Evangelical attitudes and traditional conservative values associated with the religious South. These traditional conservative values regarding sexual orientation can foster a climate of stigma and shame toward the largest group of people living with HIV/AIDS: men who have sex with men (MSM). These societal and cultural factors in the southern states combine to create barriers to health care.

Access to Healthcare
Societal factors are only a part of the complex issue regarding the disproportionate rates of HIV/AIDS infections in the South. The lack of access to healthcare is also a major contributing factor this crisis in the South.

This leaves many people living with HIV/AIDS in the South only two options for health care: Medicaid and the Ryan White CARE Act programs like state ADAPs. Unfortunately, it is still too early to tell how the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will play out in the months or years to come with regard to this population. While the ACA has afforded many the opportunity to gain insurance coverage through Marketplace Exchange programs, many low-income people living with HIV/AIDS are falling into Medicaid gaps. This is a result of the southern states’ rejection of federal funding to expand Medicaid eligibility to more citizens. With the exception of Arkansas, all of the “Deep South” states have made the decision not to expand their Medicaid coverage.

This leaves thousands of people living with HIV/AIDS to rely on Ryan White services like ADAPs for health care coverage. However, there is cause for concern as southern states have historically been less than generous in the amount of voluntary funds they provide to their state ADAPs. For example, nationally states contribute an estimated 14% to the total ADAP budget.   However, southern states have typically contribute lower than average or not at all. Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Kentucky have never contributed any state funds to the ADAP programs. In 2009 South Carolina contributed 11% and Florida contributed only 9%. The recent economic recession and subsequent rises in unemployment rates has increased the demand for ADAP services. Unfortunately the recession also has resulted in deeper budget cuts in southern states. The state of North Carolina saw their ADAP budget cut by $8 million in the fiscal years 2014-15.

These imminent budget cuts have forced state ADAPs to initiate cost-containing measures like enrollment caps and reduced formularies. The unfortunate unintended consequences of these cost-containing measures is the looming threat of national ADAP waiting lists, something the programs have been successful at reducing and nearly eliminating in recent years.

CLICK HERE to download the White Paper: “THE SOUTHERN EPIDEMIC: Are the South’s cultural, political and societal barriers making it difficult for public health programs, such as the AIDS Drug Assistance Programs, to function effectively in this region?”