You’ve been prescribed some form of testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) so learning to navigate the sometimes bumpy access to your prescription is critical. Unfortunately, insurance and testosterone sometimes don’t work well together and your path to filling your prescription might get unnecessarily complicated.
We’ve all been there. You go see your doctor, discuss your complaints, and get bloodwork done. Still, when you try to fill your prescription, you’re left scrambling — chasing pharmacy techs and spending valuable time on the phone with your insurance provider, desperately trying to verify which medications may or may not be covered.
In the end, many insurance companies still fall short and you’re hit with surprise expenses from your “covered” meds.
Understanding how and where to access your prescription is imperative to determine when you can initiate your recommended form of treatment and if you’ll be able to maintain an adequate care plan.
Because doctors can get just as lost in this jungle of bureaucracy, it’s important YOU know a little something about insurance and testosterone so you can avoid bumps along the way and tackle your low testosterone early on.
Testosterone is a Controlled Substance
There is a distinct difference between regular medications (i.e. not-controlled) and controlled substances, such as testosterone — which is important when exploring potential avenues of access. The government regulates the manufacturing and possession of all controlled substances as it can cause a dependency that can culminate in addiction.
Therefore, there’s a need for these medications to be strictly regulated by a governing body, requiring doctors to comply with applicable national and state laws. This also means responsibly managing the dosing and frequency of these drugs — keeping in mind that all controlled substances have dependency potential.
Controlled substances always require a prescription by a licensed medical professional, meaning they’re not available for purchase over the counter. So if you’re testosterone deficient, your way to receiving TRT is through a prescription only.
How Does Your Doctor Decide You Need Testosterone?
Since testosterone is a controlled substance, you have to meet with your healthcare provider for a consultation before receiving your prescription. For your evaluation, you will meet with your primary care physician or endocrinologist to discuss possible symptoms.
Typically, such evaluations are conducted at in-person visits but sometimes virtual consultations can be sufficient. Nonetheless, if you are symptomatic, your doctor will order some labs and check your testosterone levels.
According to the American Urological Association, you’re testosterone deficient once your levels plummet below the 300 ng/dL mark. Unfortunately, insurance companies sometimes argue that one lab value is not enough, and multiple insurance providers require repeat abnormal morning testosterone levels as part of the insurance and testosterone dilemma that can prolong your wait to access.
Your doctor will prescribe you a suitable form of TRT once clinical and laboratory requirements have been met — albeit he might have to present with two lab values to satisfy insurance coverage conditions.
What Happens After Your Doctor Writes Your Prescription?
After your doctor has conducted a sufficient evaluation of your health and testosterone levels, he will let you know if you’re a good candidate for testosterone therapy. Your insurance generally, will dictate which testosterone treatment you have to try first — which might not always be your preferred choice.
Nonetheless, your healthcare provider will discuss a variety of testosterone products with you and offer recommendations based on your lifestyle, work schedule, and the level of convenience you seek.
Your prescription is then sent to a local or mail-order pharmacy but usually doesn’t get filled instantly.
For patients who struggle financially, some patient assistance programs may also be available. Reach out to your provider and discuss if they offer any income-based programs.
Insurance and Testosterone: A Tale of Mutual Disdain
When your pharmacy of choice receives a prescription for testosterone on your behalf, brace yourself for a possible back-and-forth, just in case. The truth is, your health insurance and testosterone prescription might not be aligned.
What does that mean?
It means that your health insurance may not cover the testosterone product your provider has prescribed for you, or requires you to try one or more other options first before approving the testosterone therapy recommended by your doctor.
Sometimes, your insurance will approve your testosterone prescription only after receiving proof — reaching out to your doctor for office notes and diagnostic test results. They may also require multiple laboratory values and look for highly specific wording or diagnoses.
While you’re waiting for your prescription to be filled, your doctor and his office staff will be busy behind the scenes, filling out prior authorizations, submitting paperwork, and making phone calls to your insurance and pharmacy.
Naturally, this can easily extend your wait and leave you without access to your prescription for some time. And although this might be temporary, it’s frustrating nonetheless — especially if your prior authorization gets denied in the end.
Unfortunately, even when your insurance covers your testosterone prescription, you will likely have to pay a copay or other out-of-pocket expenses to obtain your medication.
So What’s the Alternative to the Insurance and Testosterone Dilemma?
On your journey to better health, sometimes you need to just choose yourself and focus on what product your doctor specifically recommended for you and what makes the most sense to you. Your insurance is only part of the equation when it comes to your testosterone therapy.
So what are your options when faced with the challenges of insurance-and-testosterone bureaucracy?
Cash pay testosterone therapies are available to all patients with a valid prescription that can be filled without relying on insurance. This form of testosterone is taken orally twice daily, offering a convenient and effective solution that can be purchased without much hassle.
Alternatively, patients can explore discounted options through services like GoodRx, providing an accessible way to obtain their prescribed testosterone without burdening their mental resources. Your doctor can electronically send your prescription to a pharmacy that supports these options, ensuring a smooth and efficient process for obtaining your testosterone.
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