JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A 5-year-old Jacksonville boy fighting cancer came within two days of not having the medication he needs to keep winning his battle with leukemia because of changes made by his family's insurance provider.
Collin Runion and his father, Timothy Runion, sport matching blue Mohawk haircuts. The pair started wearing the hairstyle after Collin was diagnosed with cancer.
“He wanted a Mohawk for some reason,” Runion said of Collin. “I was like, 'Alright!' Our favorite color is blue, so we just went with blue Mohawks.”
Collin's cancer has been in remission for a year, and it should stay that way as long as he keeps getting a life-saving medication known as 6MP, which is free through his insurance, Staywell.
But Timothy Runion said recent changes regarding in-network pharmacy providers for Staywell put Collin's remission in jeopardy.
“Staywell decided to save money. That’s the only thing I’ve been told,” Timothy Runion said. “They made the changes to CVS because they can get the medicines cheaper.”
Runion, a single father of four, said Collin's 6MP alone costs $180 a month, and he has to take six other medications along with it to keep his cancer in remission.
“He has to take it every night or his doctors say his cancer can come back,” Runion said.
A thought made even scarier for Runion this week when his youngest son's medication nearly ran out because the only pharmacy in town that makes the sterile compound is considered out-of-network now for Staywell.
“The only thing I could do is pay cash, but I’m a single father that hasn’t worked (since Collin got sick). I’ve got four kids, and I can’t do that,” Runion said.
Staywell participants were notified in November of the change from Catamaran Benefits to CVS Health network pharmacies. Those changes went into effect Jan. 1.
Participants were given a three-month grace period in which they could still use their previous pharmacy.
That period ran out recently, and Collin's medication nearly ran out with it.
“For three days (I called Staywell), and they gave me, 'Oh, well, this pharmacy should do it. This pharmacy should do it,'” Runion said. “I’ve tried so many pharmacies and no, they don’t.”
Staywell said it will look at each case and may approve using the necessary pharmacy if a participant’s medication can only be gotten out of network.
After News4Jax contacted Staywell about Collin's case, the company reviewed his situation and decided to approve a month's worth of medication for Collin from the out-of-network pharmacy.
The company said it will work with Collin's family to figure out a permanent solution.