Recently, a College member reached out to us about a patient’s health care plan that no longer covers allergy related services like skin testing and allergen immunotherapy. This is not a common problem, but we have seen it on occasion over the last several years.
These are usually employer plans that, in an attempt to reduce costs, have carved out allergy and other services. The best way to approach this is at a local level.
First, advise your patients to let the employer’s benefits manager know that allergy services are a very important benefit to a significant percentage of the company’s employees. As allergists, we know the data, but they may not. Point out that the lack of services for allergies, and especially asthma, can lead to increased costs in other areas, like emergency room visits and hospitalizations. Tell them to mention that allergies are a leading cause of absenteeism from work and the effects of allergies can lead to “presenteeism” or employees working while sick, which is a cause of decreased productivity.
An email campaign by fellow employees about this issue may be of help. All of this is best done with the support of either your local or state allergy societies.
Fortunately, this is a rare situation, but persistence with the employers can usually lead to a change in the policy. The Advocacy Council – we have you covered.