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Nationwide push to have EpiPen covered by insurance

Posted at 6:02 PM, Aug 15, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-17 16:15:04-04

MARICOPA, AZ — For the Zimbelman family of Maricopa, the EpiPen is a lifeline.

"My son is allergic to wheat, eggs, and nuts. He gets anaphylactic and has a lot of respiratory distress with eggs," says Rosemarie Burgos Zimbelman.

She says her son Hudson was 9-months-old when he had a sudden allergic reaction to peanuts that caused him to go to the emergency room.

"It was very scary, we have had to use an EpiPen several times on him in order to get him back to normal. We have had to go to the ER where he is monitored and watched several hours before he can go home," says Zimbelman.

Next year, the State of Illinois will require EpiPen injectors to be paid by insurance carriers for children from zero to 18 years of age. There's a nationwide push for the same to happen in other states.

"I think it's great (what happened in Illinois) because some families can't afford it," adds Zimbelman.

She says her son has four to five sets of EpiPens, and each set costs anywhere between $400 to $500.

"So we have one that travels with him at all times. One with my mom when she's with him. And three at the school," she adds.

The EpiPens Zimbelman's son uses have a short life span, lasting no more than one year before they expire.

"Sometimes, when we get them, they have seven or nine months left before they expire," Zimbelman said.

The day we met with Zimbelman, she brought all of the EpiPens her son has at home, and two of them recently expired.

"For us to have to go buy four additional ones, it will cost us up to $2,000 to $2,500 a year! A lot of people don't have that money, I know for us we have to put it on a credit card and pay it off little by little," she says.

Hudson's pediatrician, Dr. Judie Barnes-Clark of Hip Kids Pediatrics in Chandler, says her daughter needs an EpiPen and as such, she knows what a financial burden this life-saving medicine has on her families.

"Watching someone that you love suffer and be truly worried that they might not live is already a terrible experience for a parent to go through, and then to financially not be capable of having and keeping available medication is another paralyzing fear parent's don't need to go through," says Dr. Barnes-Clark.