They pushed back when their insurers refused to cover costly treatments

Ted Fristrom, 52, a British professor living in Bala Cynwyd, Pa., has severe nasal polyps and asthma. In 2019, she started taking Dupixent, an injectable drug that changed her life, allowing her to breathe, smell and stop using asthma and sinus medications. In October 2022, her Dupixent prescription needed to be legalized again, but calls to her insurance company, her doctor, and her pharmacy were unsuccessful, and coverage was denied. He stopped taking his medication, and his asthma and breathing problems returned.

The ear-nose-throat specialist I’ve been seeing for 20 years has performed three major surgeries on me. It’s like having low covid all the time – this hacking dry cough. My sinus polyps will cover my sinuses, until there is no air. I did have one serious infection possibly related to my sinuses 12 years ago – which ended up being bacterial meningitis.

During [the pandemic], the doctor who originally prescribed the drug has retired. I had someone reach me with one telemedicine call and successfully update [prescription] one time. But other times, something gets stuck in the process. I kept calling them and got no response. This is something I’ve never understood, how much of an issue the paperwork is.

When they cut me [in October 2022], I don’t have any sort of safety net, no prescription for asthma. I’m waiting for the medicine to wear off. His cough gradually got worse. I’m going to be doing two covid tests every week just to make sure it’s a sinus polyp and not an omicron. It wasn’t until the second or third week of January that I agreed to it. Three months.

Meningitis did leave me with a mild case of PTSD, which is usually triggered by calling people about insurance. Took me a while to figure this out. I got very annoyed by talking to the people in the insurance line. I always thought it was righteous anger, but after a while it dawned on me, I had never felt this unmitigated anger at anyone over something so seemingly trivial.

I estimate I spent at least 24 hours on the phone. And most will be waiting for someone to take the line. At least I know what I’m doing now. I choose [a new ENT specialist] I know I’ve been working on docs for Dupixent. That’s the only criterion I care about.

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