Posts filed under ‘Finances’
I recently had the privilege of working on a piece for the Huffington Post with Stephanie from The Stolen Colon for Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis Awareness Week. The piece posted today and I wanted to share a snippet from it with you:
These diseases have been known primarily as “pooping diseases” because many patients frequent the bathroom as a result of the cramping and abdominal pain caused by IBD. However, there are many aspects of the disease that are far worse than spending time in the bathroom.
Here are 10 things you didn’t know about IBD:
IBD patients often take many medications with powerful side effects.
Patients with IBD often depend on medication to control the inflammation and pain caused by their disease. Medications commonly used include antibiotics, anti-inflammatories, steroids and immunosuppressants.
While beneficial, these medications can cause side effects including nausea, vomiting, heartburn, night sweats, insomnia, hyperactivity, high blood pressure and stunted growth in children. Patients on immunosuppressants are at risk of developing lymphoma, tuberculosis, kidney and liver damage, anaphylaxis, seizures, and serious or fatal infections.
IBD causes extraintestinal issues.
Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis can cause issues in other parts of the body, including inflammation of the inner part of the eye, mouth sores, arthritis, osteoporosis, gallstones, kidney stones, skin rashes and ulcerations, blood clots, anemia and several neurological conditions, including seizures, stroke, myopathy, headaches and depression.
IBD can have significant impact on the mental health of patients.
According to Oak Park Behavioral Medicine, about 25 percent of people with IBD will experience depression even when in remission, and that number rises to 60 percent during a flare. Outside of depression, the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America reports that patients with IBD often experience anxiety, denial, dependence, stress and poor self-image.
Having IBD is exorbitantly expensive.
The annual direct cost of Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis in the United States is estimated to be $6.1 billion. A recent study showed that the mean annual cost for a patient with Crohn’s was $8,265 and for ulcerative colitis was $5,066. Each patient’s situation differs, but the most common costs of IBD include diagnostic tests, hospitalizations, surgery and medications, some of which can cost as much as $10,000 per dose.
You can view the full piece here.
When I left my last job, I thought I was going to immediately start on the insurance plan at my current job. Unfortunately I was wrong- there was a month in which I needed to wait before I could become part of my company’s insurance plan. For many people, this wouldn’t be an issue- just go without insurance for a month and then start on the new plan on the first of the next month. However, when you have an autoimmune disease, you shouldn’t have a lapse in insurance- you never know when something is going to happen where you will need your insurance.
For Dan and I, there was a whole other reason for needing to have insurance during that month- Remicade.
Remicade is administered once every 6-8 weeks to people with moderate to severe Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Dan has been on Remicade since August 2010 and it has been his miracle drug. He goes every six weeks for a two hour Remicade infusion and that’s it for his medication. Since Remicade is a miracle drug, it has a hefty price tag associated with it- as much as $10,000 per infusion without insurance.
So here’s our predicament:
I left my last job on May 24 and the insurance from that job expired on May 31. Dan was scheduled to get his Remicade infusion mid-June and, while you can push it back a few days, we couldn’t push it back two weeks until we started on my new insurance. And lord knows, we can’t afford the cost of the drug without insurance.
So what could we do?
Anyone with a disease knows just how expensive it is to live with a chronic illness. The medications, doctors appointments, surgeries, emergency room visits, and everything in between- it all adds up over time. In fact, I just went back through our records and since we got married in 2009, give or take a bit, we have spent over $4,000 out of pocket on Crohn’s related expenses.
I feel unbelievably lucky that Dan and I have health insurance because of the high medical costs associated with Crohn’s Disease. Every six weeks, Dan goes to his doctor’s office to get his Remicade infusion. So every six weeks, we pay a Remicade copay. We also pay for parking at his doctor’s office, wear and tear on the car (its a 60 mile round trip from our house to his doctor and back), gas, copay for check ups every four to six months, and for other small procedures periodically (bone density scans, colonoscopies, CT scans, etc.).