Survey: More than 80 Percent of Cancer Patients and Survivors Say Copay Assistance Programs Help Them Afford Their Prescription Drugs

Underscores Need for Governor Hochul to Sign Copay Accumulator Reform Bill to Make It Easier for New Yorkers to Pay for Medically Necessary Medications

July 19, 2022

Albany, NY – A new Survivor Views survey from the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) shows that while copay assistance programs can help cancer patients afford the medications they need, some aren’t able to apply them to their health insurance deductible or other out-of-pocket requirements, which can create a barrier to care.

An overwhelming majority of respondents (83%) who have applied to a copay assistance program and were accepted say the assistance enables them to get medication they otherwise couldn’t afford. However, more than a quarter (27%) of respondents who enrolled in a copay assistance program report that the assistance they received was not applied to their health insurance deductible or other out-of-pocket cost requirements.

Sponsored by an individual pharmaceutical manufacturer or an independent foundation, copay assistance programs are offered to people with limited incomes or who have a high medical need. However, insurers are using copay accumulator adjustment programs that prevent counting copay assistance toward an individual’s health insurance deductible or maximum out-of-pocket limit, making it harder for patients to afford medically necessary prescription drugs. 

“Everyone should have a fair and just opportunity to prevent, find, treat, and survive cancer,” said Michael Davoli, Senior Government Relations Director, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN). “Copay accumulator adjustment programs make it more challenging for patients to afford their medication, erecting barriers to care at a time when they should be torn down.”

Legislation was passed by the New York State Legislature in May that would remove this barrier to care by requiring insurers to count all payments made by patients -- either directly or on their behalf -- toward their overall out-of-pocket maximum payment or deductible.

A.1741-A/S5299-A would protect cancer patients from delayed treatment and allow patients to realize the benefit of copay assistance programs. The passed both houses of the legislature by overwhelming margins.  Currently the legislation is waiting for Governor Hochul’s signature.

The survey also found that one-fifth of all survey respondents report having skipped or delayed taking a prescribed medication due to cost, with lower income (44%), Asian and Pacific Islander (40%), Black (44%), and Hispanic (58%) patients and survivors reporting significantly higher rates of missed medication, making the need for copay accumulator reform legislation even greater. 

 “The evidence is clear that we need A.1741-A/S5299-A to provide relief for New York patients and make it easier, not harder, for them to afford medically necessary prescriptions,” said Davoli. “We urge Gov. Hochul to sign this critical legislation.”

The survey of 1,241 cancer patients and survivors nationwide was conducted May 16-26, 2022 with another 1,370 interviews conducted among traditionally underrepresented demographic groups to allow for in-depth statistical analysis.

Read the full polling memo.




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