Prior authorizations are essential to make sure that a patient’s insurance carrier is going to pay for their treatment. The greatest doctor with the best diagnosis and treatment protocol is ineffective if the patient cannot afford it or if their insurance will not cover it due to a lack of authorization. What causes prior authorizations to be denied, slip through the cracks, or otherwise be left unfulfilled? Here is a case regarding a real patient with their hepatitis C medication.
Patient X had been confirmed to have Hepatitis C and the drug ordered by the prescriber required a prior authorization. The doctor who made the diagnosis recommended a protocol involving Epclusa which, through most insurance carriers, can demand quite a few clinical notes to support the administration of the medication: a check for cirrhosis, a concurrent infection of HBV (hepatitis B), whether or not the patient has tried and failed a similar medication before—just to name a few!
The pharmacy that was to dispense the medication noticed that the drug did require prior authorization (most prior authorizations for outpatient prescriptions start in the pharmacy!) A request was sent to the office and an initial authorization request was sent to the insurer. However, a follow-up fax was sent back with the requesting of additional clinical information – a scan that wasn’t performed yet on the patient’s liver. The staff made an appointment for the patient to come in and the scan was performed. Afterwards, though, the scan was never sent to the insurer and, thusly, the authorization was denied. A follow-up authorization was initiated and, as what happens after most denials, it was immediately denied as the initial authorization was and now an appeal is required.
An appeal is when the office staff, patient, or advocate of the patient claims that the decision to deny was in error and to have the determination overturned. This was strange to the staff because all the criteria matched, they were just trying to send the required information that was asked of them. Part of the prior authorization process is to follow the flow: even though the office staff did everything within their power to advocate for the patient, the idea of an appeal for a medication that fit the indication did not quite make sense, it should be approved!
After three months of back and forth with the insurer, Qualify Health was requested for assistance, able to intervene, find out the proper format for an appeal, accrue and compile the necessary clinical information to support the use of the drug, have a signed attestation from the prescriber that the information provided is verified, and submitted through the proper channels with an URGENT expedite for a faster turn-around! After Qualify’s assistance, the drug was approved for the patient within twenty-four hours with a gracious and appreciative patient that was finally going to get the treatment that they needed.
Ultimately, prior authorizations are, and should be, part of the clinical processes in any office. There should always be a flow, a delegate for duty, and organization for the myriad processes that every insurance carrier requires based on the drug, treatment protocol, or inpatient administration because anything beyond immediately is too long for a patient that requires treatment.