Urging Healthcare Payors to Provide Better Access to Migraine and Headache Treatments

Dealing with healthcare barriers can be a daunting challenge for people with migraine and headache disease (and other conditions). Not only do we have to live with pain and symptoms, we often have to endure a trial and error process to get the best and safest medications to help us live better. The last thing we want to do is take on the obstacle of battling insurance companies about prior authorizations, step edits, appeals and navigating medication formularies, but unfortunately, it is the reality for many.

The options for treating migraine – new medications, neuromodulators, psychological training and lifestyle training – have never been so plentiful or effective, but they are not all covered or equally available at an affordable price. Many companies have provided patients with savings programs to make these treatments more affordable, but once the savings programs expire, some patients will be left battling healthcare payors for continued coverage of the treatments they rely on.

For migraine patients residing in the US, insurers require them to “fail” two migraine treatments in one category, acute or preventative, before certain treatments are covered. This policy is called “step edits” or “step therapy.” Step edits obstruct healthcare providers from prescribing the most effective medications with the fewest side effects and drug interactions. It can cause people with migraine and headache to have to wait months to get the medication that is the best fit for them.

With so many new medications now available, we have hope for better days. However, the access barriers we face can be discouraging, making it feel like these new medications are too far out of reach to stay hopeful. Treatment access barriers need to be eliminated in order for more people to get their lives back from the thief that is migraine.

We can all be a part of the effort to make that happen by signing Shades for Migraine’s petition urging healthcare payors to provide better access to headache and migraine treatments. The petition has a goal to reach 50,000 signatures by December 31, 2020. Signing and sharing this petition is an easy way to become an advocate and raise awareness for issues people with migraine and headache face.

In the new year, the petition will be shared with the 32 leading migraine and pain organizations that partner with Shades for Migraine so it can be brought to the attention of the insurers and government agencies that provide health care assistance. The migraine and headache community is strong in so many ways. Let’s prove there is strength in numbers by getting this petition to 50,000 signatures! The petition can be found at www.change.org/MigrainePetition.

Melissa Calise


by Melissa Calise
Association of Migraine Disorders

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