Health Insurance Provider Aetna will remove requirement that stops some from getting immediate treatment.
Aetna is removing a requirement that some say keeps addicts from getting treatment. Cigna started this movement last fall and Anthem followed suit in January. Starting in March, doctors will no longer have to call the insurer to get permission to prescribe medications, including suboxone, that help with withdrawal symptoms. This will remove an immediate barrier for those insured by Aetna to get needed medication assisted treatment.
Dr. Robert Couch applauded Aetna’s decision. “I’m glad to see that insurance companies are loosening some of the requirements, because it’s critical that patients facing an addiction get immediate treatment,” Couch said.
Couch said, historically, insurance companies have required doctors to seek authorization before moving forward with certain kinds of treatment. That includes prescribing drugs like suboxone.
Couch said the wait for authorization from certain insurance companies can last as long as a day.
“There may not be 24 hours before you can start treatment,” Couch said. “That patient may relapse.”
Couch said it is promising to see some insurance companies addressing those concerns.
Recovery experts, like Priscilla McIntosh, also support the change.
McIntosh, of the Morton Center in Louisville, said it is crucial to help addicts as soon as they decide to get clean.
“There’s another side to the road,” McIntosh said. “This doesn’t have to be their life.”
“They lose all hope, and the majority of the individuals will feel completely defeated, and then go back out and use again,” McIntosh said. “They feel like, ‘Here, I’m ready for help, and no one is willing to help me.'”