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Insurance issue complicates formula shortage for Phoenix family

A Phoenix family needs prescription formula for their older kids that is also in short supply and they're running into insurance issues.
Published: Jun. 3, 2022 at 2:02 PM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - Brayden Perry is eight years old. His sister Sydney is five. The Phoenix siblings both have a pediatric feeding disorder and rely on prescription formula. “Brayden is 100% formula fed,” his dad, Brandt Perry, explained. “There’s no other food options. That’s just all he has.”

The massive recall that has crippled the nation’s formula supply had a very real and immediate impact on the Perry family. “We lost quite a few cases,” said Kyra Perry, the children’s mom. “We have counted up exactly how many days we have, and it’s nerve-wracking to know at some point we could run out of the formula that we need for our kids.”

To complicate the situation, the family’s health insurance changed, and for months they’ve been struggling to get Cigna to approve coverage of the kids’ prescription formula and g-tube supplies.

“We’ve just been in this continual loop with them, running in circles and not really getting anywhere,” Kyra said. Because of the ongoing formula shortage, the Perrys say suppliers are not taking new customers, threatening Brayden and Sydney’s access to formula, even after production ramps up and supplies return to stable levels.

“We’re not approved, so we’re not an existing customer, so we’re basically now back of the line. When we can get an approval, we will then be able to say, ‘Ok, we put orders in,’ but we will be behind existing customers,” Brant added. It has forced them to find alternatives, often relying on donations from other local families who no longer need this type of formula. Some of the products are recently expired. “That’s gotten us through,” Kyra said. “Otherwise, we wouldn’t have enough formula to feed our kids.”

On Your Side contacted Cigna. Almost immediately, the insurance company assigned a case manager to work with the Perrys. They have been told their insurance plan will cover the formula, and Cigna is working with a distributor to make sure Brayden and Sydney get the formula they need. “Finally after six months, we will be able to breathe a little sigh of relief,” Kyra said.

In a statement, a spokesperson for Cigna told On Your Side, “We want our customers to be able to focus on what matters most: Their health and their family, which is why we worked quickly to resolve this issue.”