By Clorinda Walley
Anyone dealing with a chronic disease faces a myriad of emotional, physical, and psychological challenges as they struggle to stay healthy. For many patients, especially those on fixed incomes, an additional burden comes with having to manage the financial aspects required to obtain the one thing that will provide relief: their medications.
Navigating the confusing and costly web of insurance, co-payments, and paperwork requirements is a daunting task. Many medications for life altering conditions pose exorbitant costs to patients. While there are many sources of financial support available, qualifying for this support too often requires hours and hours of time. And when you are a chronic disease sufferer, time is precious.
So it is essential that patients, healthcare professionals and pharmacists know where to look.
If a patient has no insurance at all, and if they make less than $100,000 annually, there are free drug programs available directly through the pharmaceutical manufacturers who develop a specific medicine or treatment. In fact, every product manufacturer that treats a chronic illness offers corresponding programs to help commercially insured patients, regardless of financial criteria. These programs go as far as providing co-pay offsets directly to a patient’s local pharmacy.
The existence of these free drug programs will make it easy for a chronic disease sufferer to improve the quality of their lives. Living with a chronic disease can be very expensive, and these programs can help people to gradually have financial freedom without sacrificing their health during the process. The money they can save for their medications when they apply for these programs can be spent in other expenses.
That still leaves a majority of patients who have insurance (whether through a private plan or through government sponsorship programs such as Medicare and Medicaid) but still find they are falling short. That’s where organizations like Good Days from CDF play an invaluable role, by helping patients who fall into this gap.
Nearly all chronic conditions are treatable with medications. Getting access to those medications in a timely manner is the hard part. If you’re suffering from a chronic illness, you know how important it is to get your medications on time. Failing to take medication once can have adverse effects to your health, and even become the reason why your illness will eventually get worse. Failing to take medications on schedule can also cause pain and discomfort that can become the reason why you won’t be able to become productive.
With a better understanding of the resources that are available to help navigate the web of insurance, co-payments, and paperwork requirements, patients benefit by saving money and, more importantly, time. Knowledge is power when it comes to managing the cost of chronic diseases, which is why you should exert all of your resources to know what your options are.
If you suffer a chronic disease and would like to make the most out of these programs, do your own research to know more. The existence of these free drug programs can be a godsend for people with chronic diseases, but only if you know what documents to comply and how are you going to process your application. If you’re diagnosed with lupus, for example, it’s best if you spend the time to learn more about your health condition and assess if you’re qualified for any of the mentioned programs. Make sure to ask help from a healthcare professional to make the process easier for you, as well.
Living with a chronic disease is a challenge but this doesn’t mean that you can no longer do anything with your life once you’re diagnosed with one. The breakthroughs in the medical industry allowed people with chronic diseases to live comfortably and get out from their comfort zones.
Clorinda Walley is the executive director of Good Days from CDF, one of the few charitable organizations that provides financial assistance to patients who cannot afford the medications they desperately need. To learn more, visit our website at GoodDaysfromCDF.org. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Google+.