Stephen Marmaras, director of policy and advocacy for the Global Healthy Living Foundation, discusses value and patient co-payment assistance programs.
Are patient-assistance programs on the whole good or bad?
Well, we know that many of our community members rely on them to receive their therapy, so they’re very important. I think what is also important with patient-assistance programs is understanding that sometimes they can be abused. Our fear is that when they are abused, or when they’re used by individuals that may not actually need them, so to speak, it could compromise patient-assistance programs in general for the folks that are most vulnerable and need them.
I would point to a white paper that our organization did in collaboration with the University of Michigan [Center for Value-Based Insurance Design]. It looks at precision patient-assistance programs [and] how we can identify those vulnerable patients most at risk from a clinical standpoint and from a financial standpoint and making sure that co-pay assistance programs are available specifically to those individuals so that we can get people on the right treatment quickly.
I think it’s a balance. I think we need to be more responsible about applying co-pay assistance programs to individuals so that we can guarantee that they’ll be around for a longer period of time.