Health insurance companies in Illinois will soon be required to cover EpiPens for children with severe allergies.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Tuesday signed the legislation, which takes effect Jan. 1, 2020, and requires insurance companies to cover epinephrine injectors for any resident 18 years old or younger.
“To a child who cannot afford an EpiPen, one peanut, one bee sting, one exposure to Latax can mean anaphylactic shock and potentially death,” Pritzker said. “The children who will benefit shouldn’t have to go without the medication that can be the difference between life and death because insurance companies refuse to cover the cost.”
The cost of an EpiPen has “skyrocketed over the last decade,” according to the governor’s office, rising by more than 400 percent for two-pen injector packs. Without insurance, that can cost a family nearly $700 with a shelf life of a little more than a year before needing to be restocked.
“With steady increases in food allergies and other serious allergic conditions, families are relying on EpiPens more than ever before,” Sen. Julie Morrison (D-Deerfield) said in a statement. “We should be doing everything we can to expand access to affordable lifesaving drugs and medicines. No child with a serious allergy should be without an epinephrine injector because they cannot afford one.”
The new law was signed on the same day Pritzker also expanded insurance coverage for those suffering from Lyme disease. That law, which takes effect immediately, will require insurance companies to cover office visits, testing and treatment for tick-borne diseases.
“Lowering the cost of prescription drugs and expanding health care coverage is one important way to help lower costs and build a higher standard of living for all Illinoisans,” Pritzker said in a statement.