Are prescription pre-authorizations going the way of the dinosaur?

In October 2016, Cigna announced that they will no longer require pre-authorizations for buprenorphine prescriptions.  This week Anthem followed suit.  As Suboxone patients know, many insurance companies require pre-authorization paper-work before they will allow a prescription to be filled.   It can be confusing to patients, doctors and administrators.  Which insurance company allows which formulation of buprenorphine to be filled?

When new patients come in for in-take, they are often in some stage of withdrawal.  Their doctor may write them a prescription for immediate pickup, only to be told that the patient needs a prior-authorization.  This can delay the filling of the prescription for days.  Best case, its incredibly unpleasant for the patient, at worst it puts the patient at risk for relapse. 

In Maryland, the medicaid administrators say they will get the prior-authorizations done within 24 hours, but often we find that there is some miscommunication and that it can take longer than that. 

Over the last few months, at least two of the private insurers, Cigna and Anthem, are giving up on the requirement.  That allows patients to immediately fill their Suboxone prescriptions and get the relief from withdrawal that they are looking for.

Hopefully even more companies will follow in the footsteps of Anthem and stop requiring prior-authorizations for opioid addiction treatment.