Multiple sclerosis, often referred to as MS, is a disabling neurological condition that affects 2.5 million people worldwide. Within the US, there are over 400,000 Americans living with MS. Each week there are 200 new cases of multiple sclerosis in the United States.
What Are The Medical Expenses For Multiple Sclerosis?
There are many medical expenses from the point when a patient is diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and the rest of their lives. These costs can be broken down in the following categories:
– Hospital inpatient care.
– Ambulatory care.
– Specialists and health professionals such as physicians, nurses, physiotherapists and paramedical assistance.
– Tests for diagnosis, check-ups and management.
– Drugs and medication, particularly to manage MS daily.
– Informal care such as at home care.
– Short-term absence from work.
– Reduced working time.
What Is The Cost Of Multiple Sclerosis?
The reality of living with multiple sclerosis can come with not only emotional and physical stress, but can also be a financial burden on the individual and their family. Many patients who suffer from MS will have a number of non-medical and medical related expenses. These costs can often be unaccounted for or not covered for, where the patient bares the full cost.
The cost of multiple sclerosis treatment has risen within the last few years. According to a study entitled ‘Economics of Multiple Sclerosis and it’s treatment’, a patient can expect to pay out of pocket on average of $20,000 annually, where patients require out of pocket costs of hundreds of dollars per month. In some cases, treatment can cost up to $30,000 a year or more.
The out of pocket cost varies depending on the type of insurance and the coverage available on the health insurance, personal circumstances and the severity of multiple sclerosis.
The cost of multiple sclerosis for Americans can increase tremendously due to severe disability, unpredictability of exacerbations, and
other factors that can complicate course of treatment and management of MS.
Individuals who are not eligible for medicare or medicaid can find it extremely difficult to access treatment. Being unable to afford treatment and medication, many Americans choose to go without treatment. Therefore, the out of pocket cost can be a substantial barrier for many patients living with MS.
10 Resources To Get Multiple Sclerosis Financial Assistance
For individuals who have been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis or who have been living with MS, there are many resources that can help assist you financially in order to access treatment and necessary equipment.
1. Government Services And Programs
The government offers a range of assistance programs that are available for individuals with an illness, disability or medical condition. These programs are particularly useful for individuals who are under the poverty line or are considered low income earners.
Programs such as Medicare’s Prescription Drug Coverage or Extra Help, can provide financial assistance for individuals living with multiple sclerosis. There are certain requirements in order to be eligible for these financial assistance.
2. National Multiple Sclerosis Society Financial Assistance Program
The National Multiple Sclerosis Society is one of the largest organizations in the United States that offers multiple sclerosis financial assistance to support patients with multiple sclerosis. One of the programs that the National Multiple Sclerosis Society runs offers individuals living in the United States financial assistance. In order to receive financial assistance, individuals will be asked to demonstrate or show proof of their need for financial assistance first.
Individuls upon approval, can seek assistance for the following things:
– Respite services such as short term home care.
– Access to disability equipment or other independence living equipment including durable medical equipment and air conditioners.
– Accessibility modifications to homes or automobiles such as ramps, wheelchair access vehicles and hand controls.
– Transportation costs in order to attend to medical appointments.
– Critical short term needs such as emergency help with utilities or rent.
– Health and wellness support such as rehabilitation services and therapies.
Although you can receive financial assistance from organizations like National Multiple Sclerosis Society, these programs offered generally provide short term financial assistance. Individuals should not expect ongoing financial assistance and rather seek help from other resources available.
3. Charities And Non-Profit Organizations
Charities and non-profit organizations, particularly those with a mission to assist individuals with a disability, MS or with a neurological condition, can help individuals looking for financial assistance.
It is important to note that many if not all non-profit organizations that can provide financial assistance to individuals with multiple sclerosis will have limiting resources. This means, individuals can expect slow processing or be denied access to financial assistance due to limited funding available.
4. Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)
Individuals living with multiple sclerosis may have difficulties continuing or maintaining employment. This is because of the range of side effects, symptoms and reactions that can be caused by having MS and using MS treatments and medication.
The Social Security Disability Insurance also known as SSDI in short, is a insurance program that offers individuals with multiple sclerosis financial assistance who are unable to work due to MS income benefits. Although there is a lengthy process, patients can expect to receive ongoing financial assistance to help pay for much needed medication and equipment.
5. Medical Fundraising
Medical fundraising is a great way for individuals to seek financial assistance and support from friends and family. People can create an online fundraiser within minutes and share it with their friends and family through word of mouth, social media and even email. Connecting to your networks, you may be able to tap into financial support in order to pay for treatment, medication and equipment you or a loved one requires.
Medical fundraising is particularly beneficial for individuals who have exhausted all other options and are still struggling to cover the medical expenses every year. Holding an online fundraiser as well as fundraising events to give further incentives for supporters to donate is a great way to raise more money easily online.
The best benefit is that you can fundraise onlie completely for free at PeoplePledge. This means there are no risks to you to start and run a fundraiser online.
6. The Affordable Care Act
Since early 2014, the Affordable Care Act has been in place to help families across the US get affordable health insurance. Individuals particularly who have been living with or recently diagnosed with multiple sclerosis will no longer be denied access to health insurance coverage. In the past, patients may have been deterred away from getting health insurance with the high cost premiums and co=payments associated with them.
Individuals can now purchase a health plan through what is known as the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Program (PCIP). This health plan is made specifically for individuals with a known and existing condition for at least 6 months. Prices vary between states, however are becoming more affordable over time.
7. Speaking To Your Doctor
Having a discussion with your doctor directly about your financial concerns can be helpful in finding the best solution for your situation. Doctors may be able to offer alternative medication such as generic brands that can be less expensive but still as affective as expensive branded medication.
Discussing your options with your doctor can also lead you to negotiating the cost of your medical bill. Individuals can get a large discount if they are able to pay a larger portion of their expenses upfront.
Doctors may also help you with getting a payment plan organized to help you cover your medical bills and cost for medication over time. This idea is suitable for patients who require ongoing medication but are unable to pay a large amount upfront.
8. Pharmaceutical Companies’ Assistance Programs
Many pharmaceutical companies offer a range of assistance programs to help their target market access and use their drugs and medications. This is no different for patients living with MS.
This option is ideal for individuals who are unable to access Medicare or other benefits through the government. Many companies can offer free drugs and medication for an extended period of time. This period is generally between 1 to 6 months. Patients will also be able to receive discounts, reimbursements and co-payment offers.
9. Assistance for Adaptive Equipment
Depending on the type of financial support you require, you can also approach specific companies and non-profit organizations that can help provide free or discounted adaptive equipment such as wheelchairs.
Companies that manufacture wheelchairs for example or businesses that sell wheelchairs can provide discounts when purchasing adaptive equipment. You may also be able to find second-hand options that are on the low end cost but are still functional. Many stores can also offer payment plans with low interest rates that can help you cover the cost.
This approach is suitable for patients with multiple sclerosis who require assistance for equipment and can then cover their out of pocket costs for other medical expenses such as treatment or medication.
10. Society or Community Support
Within every community there are a few places to find support. Patients looking for multiple sclerosis financial assistance can seek assistance not only from non-profit organizations but from societies, clubs and community groups. These organizations can help you fundraise or seek support for medical expenses, particularly for wheelchairs and other equipment you may require.
This can be particularly helpful if you are a member of a society or group and can reach out to them for assistance. International rotary clubs for example, offer financial assistance for particular cases within their area or district. You can start by approaching and speaking to your club or society to see what they can offer and how they can help.
1) Multiple Sclerosis by the Numbers: Facts, Statistics, and You: http://www.healthline.com/health/multiple-sclerosis/facts-statistics-infographic
2) The Costs of MS Treatment: http://www.everydayhealth.com/multiple-sclerosis/costs-of-ms-treatment.aspx
3) The Financial Reality of Multiple Sclerosis: http://www.msfocus.org/article-details.aspx?articleID=354
4) Economics of multiple sclerosis and its treatment: http://www.utasip.com/files/articlefiles/pdf/ASIP_4_11p330_333.pdf
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