Variations in Health Insurance Policies Regarding Biologic Therapy Use in Inflammatory Bowel Disease
The American Gastroenterological Association (AGA) has developed guidelines for the management of ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease (CD) recommending anti-TNF therapy in moderate-severe disease. However, which drug is used is often dictated by insurance company policies. We sought to determine the insurance policy requirements prior to approval of biologic therapies.Methods:
Using the National Association of Insurance Commissioners report of the top 125 insurance companies by market share in 2014, we reviewed the first 50 that had online policies regarding anti-TNF and vedolizumab available. Policies were reviewed for criteria needed for approval of anti-TNF or vedolizumab therapy, and for compliance with the current AGA clinical pathway recommendations.Results:
Ninety-eight percent of policies are inconsistent with the AGA ulcerative colitis pathway and require step-wise drug failure before approval of an anti-TNF. Only 11% of the policies allowed starting vedolizumab without initial failures of an anti-TNF agent, and 21% required the failure of two or more anti-TNF agents. Ninety percent of the policies are inconsistent with AGA CD pathway and require step-wise drug failure before approval of an anti-TNF. Seventy-four percent allowed for initiating infliximab specifically for fistulizing CD. Twenty-eight percent required failing of at least two or more drugs before starting anti-TNF. Only 8% policies allowed starting vedolizumab without initial failures of an anti-TNF agent, and 28% required the failure of two anti-TNF agents.Conclusions:
The majority of the policies reviewed fail to adhere to the current AGA pathway recommendations for ulcerative colitis and CD. Further interventions are needed to better align policies with optimal evidence-based drug therapy.