The South, the U.S. region with the most HIV infections each year, also has the greatest barriers to obtaining drugs that can prevent the disease for people who rely on Affordable Care Act insurance plans, research reveals.
University of Virginia School of Medicine researchers have found that 38% of qualified health plans offered by Southern states require recipients to seek “prior authorization” for the prescription medications. That rate is far higher than in other regions, which range from 13% in the Midwest down to only 3% in the Northeast.
Outlining their findings in a paper in the journal JAMA Network Open, the researchers said that “discriminatory benefit design” that seeks to prevent people from accessing costly medical care could be a “systemic barrier” contributing to the spread of HIV in the South.
PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) medications are preventative medications for people at higher risk of contracting HIV – either because of sexual activity or other factors. When insurance plans require prior authorization, doctors must justify a drug as medically necessary and may have to document that the patient meets specific criteria.