Johns Creek woman with rare disease to continue treatment

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JOHNS CREEK, Ga. — For three months, Sheryl Vrieze, a Johns Creek resident, was in a fight to save her life – with her insurance company.

With the help of the Immune Deficiency Foundation, Vrieze won.

Seventeen years ago, Vrieze was diagnosed with Common Variable Immune Deficiency, a rare chronic disease.

Within a month of her diagnosis, Vrieze started her intravenous immunoglobulin therapy. Upon starting her treatment, she experienced many adverse reactions including nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and body aches. After a year of changing therapies, Vrieze became stabilized on an IVIG product, and the adverse reactions ceased.

For more than 15 years, Vrieze continued to receive the same IVIG therapy.

In February 2012, Vrieze received a letter from her insurance company stating that she would have to switch IVIG therapy products on April 1.

The health plan introduced a restrictive formulary — a list of drugs preferred by health insurance plans — forcing patients to switch therapies on which they are stabilized.

Vrieze spent three months trying to get her insurance company to cover the cost of her treatment. Because she was unable to confirm what treatment she would be receiving at her next infusion, she decided to put her treatment on hold.

Once Vrieze put her treatment on hold, IDF stepped in to help and reached out to the insurance company.

As a result of Vrieze’s perseverance and IDF’s guidance, Vrieze was finally approved to stay on her current product.