US commercial health plans have been found to vary in how they cover specialty drugs indicated for a range of diseases. In this study, we examined patients’ access to hemophilia A (HemA) treatments across a set of large commercial health plans.
To examine variation in health plans’ coverage policies for HemA treatments.
We reviewed HemA treatment coverage policies (current as of August 2019) issued by 17 commercial health plans primarily using the Tufts Medical Center Specialty Drug Evidence and Coverage Database. We categorized policies as: covered without conditions (coverage consistent with the FDA label); covered with conditions (conditions on coverage beyond the FDA label); broader coverage (coverage for a broader patient population than the FDA label); and mixed (conditions on coverage beyond the FDA label in one way, but coverage was broader than the FDA label in another).
We identified 296 coverage policies for 26 HemA treatments, including 15 short half-life factor VIII (FVIII) products, five extended half-life FVIII products, three bypassing agents, two desmopressin products, and emicizumab. We classified 36% of policies as coverage without conditions, 50% as covered with conditions, 7% as broader coverage, and 7% as mixed. Plans applied conditions on coverage with different frequencies: two did not apply conditions in any policies; ten applied conditions in ≥50%; four applied conditions in <40%. One plan did not publish coverage policies for any HemA products. Conditions on coverage most often related to bleeding frequency (36%), although specific requirements varied. Plans applied step therapy protocols in 17% of policies.
How health plans covered HemA treatments varied. Plans added conditions on coverage beyond the FDA label roughly half the time. Conditions most often related to bleeding frequency. Variable coverage affects patients’ access to treatment, and potentially has clinical implications on disease management and disease progression.