UVM Health Network Health Assistance Program Helped More than 6,000 Patients Access Free Prescription Medication, Equipment, Support in 2023

Release Date: 
March 6, 2024

BURLINGTON, Vt. – The UVM Health Network’s program for patients who need help affording prescriptions, navigating insurance coverage, and accessing eyeglasses and medical equipment is supporting more patients and families than ever before. In 2023, the Health Assistance Program (HAP) helped 6,368 patients obtain life-saving medication, and helped hundreds more enroll in health insurance and other state and federal programs, or access other critical health resources through the team’s advocacy and support.;

A patient from Plainfield was referred to HAP by her cardiologist when she was no longer able to afford her vital heart medication on her combined social security income, pension, and savings. A patient from Burlington with diabetes was able to enroll in a state program, VPHARM, to keep getting her medication. And a confused family was able to correct their information in the Vermont Health Connect system and enroll in health insurance after a HAP team member spent several hours on the phone helping them.

For patients who qualify, all co-pays and costs are waived for both brand-name and generic prescriptions – totaling 87,000 prescriptions in 2023. Overall, HAP covered $7.5 million in costs last year that would have come out of lower-income patients’ pockets for medication.

The HAP team has seen more patients struggling with rising prescription costs, as well as navigating health insurance coverage, which has led to the increased number of people seeking help. “People are struggling with the cost of living, and some of our patients aren’t able to afford medications that they actually need to live,” said Will Seitz, who manages the HAP team. “If we can help them save a few dollars on a prescription, or find them the walker they need to go about their daily life, we are proud to do that.”

The team’s staff are all certified Vermont Health Connect assisters, able to help patients identify and enroll in the right health insurance plan for them. They also assist patients with Medicare Part D enrollments.

HAP is made possible by the federal 340B program, which allows hospitals to buy prescription drugs at a discounted rate. The UVM Health Network then invests those savings into the prescription assistance program.

“As a nonprofit health system, we want to make sure we do everything we can to ensure that cost doesn’t prevent patients from getting the care that they need,” said Sunny Eappen, MD, MBA, President and Chief Executive Officer of the UVM Health Network. “This is an important way for us to help provide equitable access to lifesaving health care.”

Help is available for those in need

Health Assistance Program: To learn more about HAP, including whether you are eligible for support, email HealthAssistanceProgram@UVMHealth.org, call 802-847-6984, or call toll-free at 888-739-5183.

Financial Assistance Program: At The University of Vermont Medical Center, we want to make sure you get the emergency and other medically necessary care you need. Our Financial Assistance Program provides free and discounted care to eligible patients to help cover the cost of that care. You may qualify for help even if you have health insurance.

To find out more about the Financial Assistance Program, email customerservice@uvmhealth.org, call 802-847-8000, or call toll-free at 800-639-2719.