Imagine struggling to breathe after devoting your life to helping others breathe better as a respiratory therapist. Imagine committing to a three-stage outpatient procedure to address your severe asthma, and then being denied access to stage two after stage one is completed.

This is what happened to 46-year-old Charnette of Houston in January 2018. Charnette was subjected to a treatment method called “step therapy” by her health insurance provider. Due to a change of insurance plan offered by her employer, she was forced to put her treatment plan – and her life – on hold after already completing the first stage of treatment. As a result, she had to go on disability and suffered numerous ER visits and a lengthy hospitalization just to stay alive.

Failing first

Step therapy is often called the “fail first” method because insurers require patients to fail step one of treatment before moving on to step two, even when the doctor and patient have agreed step two is the best option. It often happens when patients are forced to change health plans and are then subjected to new coverage policies.

Allergy & Asthma Network is partnering with millions of patients who are falling prey to “step therapy” management policies by health insurance providers. In fact, the Network has elevated this issue on Capitol Hill to support HR 2077, Restoring the Patients Voice Act, to prevent this from happening in the future.

Fighting step therapy

What can you do to help patients like Charnette or if you find yourself a victim of step therapy? Visit AllergyAsthmaNetwork.org to learn more about these harmful practices, and then click on the “Advocacy” tab to send a letter, email or place a call to policymakers.

Finally, stand up for your rights as a patient and advocate. Understand how to request an appeal if this happens to you or a loved one. Share your story on the Network’s social media channels or call us at (800) 878-4403 if you need help navigating health insurance coverage.