More than half of Americans face financial difficulties paying for medical treatment, according to a recent study. This is particularly relevant in rare diseases and cancer and exacerbates health issues while causing mounting anxiety. Many pharmaceutical companies have taken the lead in supporting patients in addressing these hurdles through online education. In doing so, they have found a compelling way to engage patients and strengthen their brand identity as compassionate corporate citizens. 

By offering digital education on topics such as financial health literacy, they are able to build a positive brand experience for patients. This is an important added educational value for patients and family caregivers amid escalating medical and supportive care financial burdens and an increasingly complex insurance landscape.

When facing a change in insurance reimbursement for its subcutaneous therapy for rare neurological disorder, one global rare disease biotech firm, CSL Behring, reached out to educate patients and caregivers about how to navigate these changes. They partnered with PlatformQ Health and a nonprofit patient advocacy group focused on neurological disorders, who helped produce free online programs addressing both commercial insurance and Medicare. By collaborating with PlatformQ Health and other credible third-parties, they were able to deliver educational resources that patients and their families trust. 

Session 1: Navigating Insurance Reimbursement in Rare Disease: Commercial Insurance learning objectives:

  • Learn about benefit investigation
  • Types of appeals and their respective processes
  • Understanding how to navigate loss of coverage
  • Connecting with commercial insurance resources

Session 2: Navigating Insurance Reimbursement in rare disease: Medicare learning objectives:

  • Understanding Medicare options, when to sign up and differences in coverage plans
  • Efforts being made in Congress that may impact rare disease treatment
  • Understanding durable medical equipment benefits and expected out-of-pocket expenses

The online educational programs were offered live and remained available on-demand on afterwards. Both programs proved extremely popular, garnering more than 34,000 video views. The average time in session was 20 minutes for the commercial session and 18 minutes for the Medicare session. 

“With the complexities of modern healthcare, patients, and caregivers face enormous challenges,” says Senior Director of Immunology and Neurology Marketing at CSL Behring Jason Reckner. “It can be especially difficult for people with rare diseases who rely on specialty therapies. At CSL Behring, we are driven by our promise to patients and helping them gain access to the medicines they need is an imperative, not an afterthought. That is why we have developed resources and partnered with organizations such as the GBS|CIDP Foundation to educate patients and caregivers on navigating the insurance landscape. We want patients and caregivers to feel empowered when communicating with their insurance companies and not have to worry about potential breaks in treatments because of an insurance complication.”

One of the largest biopharmaceutical companies in the world, Pfizer, took a similar approach to educating cancer patients and their families. By partnering with PlatformQ Health and a nonprofit organization focused on supporting cancer survivors, they provided effective strategies to help reduce financial strains on patients and their families. Together, the organizations produced a four-module online education series with step-by-step guidance on managing insurance and finances after a cancer diagnosis. 

The sessions addressed the many factors contributing to financial burdens, and how the health care team can help reduce the cost of care. Patients left the sessions with a better understanding of key health care terms, health insurance options, support resources, and more. Ultimately, the programs guided patients and their families in maximizing health insurance coverage by taking steps such as leveraging out-of-pocket premiums by using in-network providers, labs, and pharmacies and securing preauthorizations from providers. 

Another session focused on legal protections to safeguard the job of patients diagnosed with cancer. Throughout the session, patients learned about employee benefits, employment laws, as well as wage replacement options for themselves and their caregivers. In addition, one session was devoted to support systems that tackle ancillary healthcare costs related to transportation, childcare, work absences, and more. 

Patients and their families were highly engaged in the programs, which drew more than 25,000 video engagements with an average of 29 minutes in session. More importantly, the sessions moved the needle in terms of patient outcomes. 56% of learners reported that the sessions increased their confidence in the subject matter.

“Healthcare finances are complicated, from knowing how to pick the best insurance plan for your needs, to understanding medical bills, and everything in between,” says Pfizer Director of Advocacy and Professional Relations Joshua Bergren. “Whether it’s the cost of care or finding resources to help with those costs, it can feel like learning a new language to many people. At Pfizer, we recognize these difficulties and have worked with many partners like Triage Cancer and others to develop tools and resources for patients and their loved ones to learn how to better navigate these issues. It doesn’t matter if you are prescribed a Pfizer product or not, these tools are built to benefit everyone.”

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