The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted how seriously individuals with cardiovascular disease and related comorbidities should consider their overall health and wellness. Risk factors including obesity, high blood pressure and high LDL cholesterol (or bad cholesterol) proved to worsen outcomes for patients who contracted the coronavirus.
Cardiovascular disease is already the leading cause of death in the Magnolia State. Nearly one-third of Mississippians live with high cholesterol. So why aren’t more therapeutics accessible for those who wish to manage these risk factors and keep them under control?
The Partnership to Advance Cardiovascular Health recently released an alarming report citing that insurance companies were more likely to deny life-saving medications to lower harmful cholesterol levels for women, Black and Hispanic patients than male and white patients. Mississippi ranks among the highest states in claim denials. Blue Cross Blue Shield Mississippi has a 49% rejection rate for these medications.
Some people can alter their diet and increase their exercise routine to make their LDL levels manageable. Still, others with pre-existing conditions and hereditary high cholesterol need medication to lower their levels. Now more than ever, patients need access to medications that can reduce cholesterol up to 70% and cut the risk of a heart attack up to approximately one-third.
This table identifies the insurance organizations with the highest rates of rejection for cholesterol-lowering PCSK9 inhibitors. Courtesy Partnership to Advance Cardiovascular Health
The compounding effects regarding the prevalence of high cholesterol within Black communities and higher-than-average prescription coverage denial rates in Mississippi are troubling. We must improve preventive care if we want better patient outcomes surrounding cardiovascular disease.
Mississippians have three ways to address lowering LDL levels in our state.
Screenings, Education and Prescription Access
Most people with high cholesterol show no signs or symptoms. However, a simple blood test can measure your cholesterol levels. Your health-care provider can do this in their office, which is often a covered benefit through many insurance plans. If you do not have a primary-care physician, check your local health clinics for availability or free screening events in your local community. Many churches and nonprofit organizations provide cholesterol screenings
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