Illinois becomes first state to require insurance companies to c - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Illinois becomes first state to require insurance companies to cover EpiPens for kids

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(WSIL) -- Governor J.B. Pritzker signed a bill requiring insurance providers to cover EpiPens for children under the age of 18, making Illinois the first state to do so.

EpiPens save people who are having a serious allergic reaction but the cost for a does increased 400 percent over the last decade, according to the governor's office.  

"I have seen mothers look for EpiPens for months that we cannot give them because of stock outages or cost-prohibitive issues with their co-pays being too high," pharmacist Ben Calcaterra said. "Where that child who may need a life-saving EpiPen might go months and months without having them."

Calcaterra said there's a number of reasons behind the increase, but most people can't afford a $700 dose without some help.

"And that has caused a great cost barrier for those patients who really need it to save their life," Calcaterra said.

That's where House Bill 3435 comes in.

The bill requires insurance companies to cover at least one form of EpiPens.  

Pritzker signed the bill last week and he said it's a big step forward in protecting children and families.

Calcaterra said its a good first step, but it doesn't do anything to control costs.

"This does not require any insurance company to make a cost provision or cover it, full price, for those children," Calcaterra said.

Megan Ellison is the parent of a child who has severe allergies and after the price of an EpiPen skyrocketed in recent years, she went to drugmaker, Auvi-Q, for a rebate to cover the cost.

"I don’t think may people are aware of this program," Ellison said. "It really needs to be common knowledge since this is a life saving device that is a necessity."

Calcaterra said there are programs to help cover the cost, you just have to ask.

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