DELAWARE – House Bill 54 would require companies to offer a version of its lowest tier of approved medicines for all ages.
Building on an earlier effort to make epinephrine autoinjectors affordable to young people, the House announced on Mar. 14 that it unanimously approved expanding that insurance coverage for the lifesaving autoinjectors to all Delawareans, regardless of age.
More commonly known by its brand name EpiPen, an epinephrine autoinjector is an emergency treatment used when someone is experiencing a severe allergic reaction, known as anaphylaxis. People with allergies to foods containing dairy, peanuts, shellfish, tree nuts or other items often carry an EpiPen with them in the event that they are exposed.
The cost of epinephrine autoinjectors has spiked during the past 15 years, and because they have a shelf life of about a year, patients must replace them regularly.
House Bill 54’s sponsor, Rep. Kim Williams, says it would require insurance plans regulated under Delaware law to provide coverage for epinephrine autoinjectors to all residents, and to offer a version of EpiPens on its lowest tier of approved medicines.
Williams says this would make the autoinjectors more affordable, reducing any out-of-pocket expenses and ensuring the devices are accessible to everyone via their insurance. Currently, the state requires all such health insurance plans to offer this coverage for those 18 and younger.
“We have seen how much drug prices have gone up in recent years, forcing many of our constituents to make unthinkable decisions about whether they can afford this lifesaving drug. It costs less than a Capriotti’s bobbie to manufacture an EpiPen, but a two-pack of EpiPens can cost more than a car payment,” said Rep. Williams. “We made the commitment to our young people two years ago that no one should be priced out of obtaining these autoinjectors to prevent them from going into anaphylaxis. Now we’ve said that all Delawareans should receive the same protection and coverage.”
Coverage for adults would begin January 2024 under House Bill 54, which now heads to the Senate for consideration.
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