A diagnosis like inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) means lifestyle changes throughout every aspect of life, including financially through direct costs of care as well as indirect costs like missed school or work. There are a number of resources like these that can help IBD patients manage the financial impact of the disease, many of which depend on the patient’s stage of life.
Managing the Cost of IBD
(Family Features) A diagnosis like inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) means lifestyle changes throughout every aspect of life, including financially. IBD has many direct costs of care, like clinic visits, radiology studies, procedures and costly medications. There are also indirect costs such as missed work or school.
There are a number of resources that can help IBD patients manage the financial impact of the disease, many of which depend on the patient’s stage of life. For example, young adults transitioning into the workforce and off their parents’ insurance may find their needs quite different from older adults who are approaching Medicare eligibility.
Evaluate your IBD needs and select an affordable insurance plan. When you turn 26, you age out of your parents’ health insurance plan. Your options may include enrolling in a plan sponsored by your employer or your spouse’s employer; purchasing a plan in the health insurance marketplace (you can enroll 60 days before you turn 26 and the timeframe ends 60 days after your birthday); purchasing insurance on the individual market; purchasing COBRA (a temporary health insurance plan that is extended under your parents’ plan for up to 18 months); or going on Medicaid, if you’re eligible.
To decide what’s right for your situation, start by listing your current health care providers and health services. Review the insurance plan you are considering and check whether your current providers, medications and hospital are covered in the plan, and whether they are considered in-network (more cost-efficient) or out-of-network (higher out-of-pocket costs).
You’ll want to weigh potential expenses, including the monthly premiums, deductibles, out-of-pocket maximums, copays and coinsurance, if applicable. Also be aware of the distinctions between medical and pharmacy coverage. This will give you a realistic picture of what you can expect to spend on a monthly and annual basis.
For assistance with your options, consider speaking with an insurance specialist or help center, such as the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation’s IBD Help Center, which can help you review available plans and find one best suited for your needs.
Participate in a savings program. If you have the option of participating in a Health Savings or Flexible Spending Account, these personal savings programs can help pay your out-of-pocket costs. You contribute a certain amount of untaxed money to the account each year, which can be used toward expenses like prescriptions, deductibles, copayments and coinsurance.
Each program has distinct guidelines on factors, like payment and carrying over unused funds, so it’s important to do thorough research before selecting a plan.
Enroll in manufacturer assistance programs. Depending on your specific circumstances, you may be eligible for assistance from your prescription manufacturers or lab testing companies. In addition to drug copay discount programs and pharmaceutical financial assistance programs, you might be able to access help to offset the cost of certain procedures.
Your health care provider or pharmacist may have information on available programs, or you can visit manufacturer websites and other resources like crohnscolitisfoundation.org/managingcosts.
Investigate grants, foundations, and other assistance programs. Other types of financial assistance are also available. Pharmaceutical companies, the Patient Advocate Foundation, and several other foundations offer college scholarships to IBD patients.
Purchase coordinated or supplemental Medicare insurance. As you approach the age of 65, you enter an enrollment period (3 months prior and 3 months after your birthday) when you are eligible to apply for Medicare, a federal health insurance program. In addition to original Medicare, you have the option of purchasing additional insurance for added health care coverage and benefits, such as a Medicare Advantage Plan (Medicare Part C) or Medigap plan.
Enroll in federal and state savings programs. If you have or are eligible for Medicare Part A, and if you have limited income and resources, your state Medicaid program can help determine whether you qualify for one of the Medicare Savings Programs.
State Health Insurance Assistance Programs (sometimes referred to as SHIP programs) have different names in different states but all provide free one-on-one telephone counseling and advice services, personal face-to-face counseling sessions, public education programs and media presentations for assistance with Medicare programs (including Part D) and Medicaid.
If you have limited income and resources, you may qualify for help paying for prescription drugs. The Medicare Extra Help Program is for Medicare Part D recipients and recipients of both Medicare and Medicaid who have limited income and resources to help pay for prescription drugs.
Apply for financial aid through pharmaceutical companies. Another option, if you are eligible, is to enroll in financial assistance through the drug manufacturers. Funds are available from several manufacturers and non-profits to help patients cover copays and pay their out-of-pocket costs.
Pharmaceutical patient assistance programs are separate foundations set up by the drug manufacturers to provide financial assistance to people who cannot afford their medications. You need to demonstrate financial need when you apply for these programs.
While on private insurance, you may be able to use drug copay cards. The drug company will pay for a portion of the drug and the out-of-pocket cost to the patient is considerably lower. However, drug copay discount cards are generally no longer available to patients when they transition off private insurance onto Medicare.
Investigate grants, foundations and other assistance programs. Additional assistance may be available through other foundations. Find these and other resources to assist in planning your IBD medical expenses at crohnscolitisfoundation.org/managingcosts.
Lower Your Medical Costs
1. Compare prices and select in-network providers. Always ask if your labs and support team members (all providers, not just your gastroenterologist) are in network.
2. Not all pharmacies charge the same, so shop around. Online pharmacies can often be less expensive (for example, a 90-day supply can often be the same cost as a 30-day supply).
3. Check your bill. According to the Medical Billing Advocates of America, billing advocates and other health professionals estimate up to 80% of medical bills contain errors.
4. If insurance refuses to pay, talk to your healthcare provider about appealing the insurance company’s denial.
Photos courtesy of Getty ImagesSOURCE:
Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation
If you or a loved one are struggling with the expenses of diabetes, here are some useful tips to control the cost of supplies and treatment.
(BPT) - For the over 29 million Americans living with diabetes, striking a balance between managing diabetes and controlling the cost of treatment can be challenging.[i] According to a Wakefield Research survey of 500 adults with diabetes, 62 percent of respondents said they felt they could do a better job managing their diabetes if supplies were more affordable, and 58 percent admitted to cutting corners in order to save money.
If you or a loved one are struggling with the expenses of diabetes, here are some useful tips to control the cost of supplies and treatment:
Affordable and simple testing
Testing your blood glucose regularly is very important for people with diabetes as it assists with the management of their condition and helps to prevent serious complications.[ii]
Check out the Accu-Chek Guide System, which includes a new blood glucose meter to help simplify the most frequent tasks needed to manage diabetes. Updated features include test strips in a new spill-resistant SmartPack vial to help ensure you won’t spill any strips when you take one for testing, a larger application area on the strip so even a small drop of blood anywhere along the end will yield results, and the meter’s strip port light to allow you to easily test at night as well as during the day.
An addition to the Accu-Chek Guide System is the SimplePay program which provides consistent low prices on test strips.[iii] Simply download the free SimplePay Savings card on the Accu-Chek website and hand the card to your pharmacist, along with your Accu-Chek guide meter and strip prescription to start saving. Visit accu-chek.com/guide to learn more and to download the savings card.
Manage medications for savings
Medications can be expensive, but several strategies can help you cut back on costs.
First, always ask your doctor if a generic version is available for any diabetes medication he or she prescribes for you. Generic medications typically cost much less than name brands, and the FDA requires generics to be the same as their brand-name equivalents in dosage form, safety, strength, route of administration, quality, performance characteristics and intended use.[iv]
If your doctor advises you to stick with a brand-name diabetes medicine, try contacting the manufacturer to see if they offer discount programs for patients. Many do.
Another tip is to purchase your diabetes medications in bulk to save money. Some online prescription supply companies offer savings for purchasing medicines in bulk. Just be sure you’re purchasing from a reputable supplier.
Use online resources and communities
When it comes to managing a disease like diabetes, knowledge really is power. A wealth of information is available for people living with diabetes from sources such as:
* The American Diabetes Association at www.diabetes.org.
* The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Diabetes Education Program (www.cdc.gov/diabetes).
* The Children’s Diabetes Foundation (www.childrensdiabetesfoundation.org).
* The National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/diabetes).
* Your local health department.
Support organizations can also help you manage your disease. You’ll not only receive guidance from others who share similar experiences and concerns, but community members may be able to share ideas, tips and practical advice.
To learn more about diabetes management and controlling the cost of testing supplies, visit accu-chek.com/guide.
The Roche Diabetes Care Survey was conducted by Wakefield Research (www.wakefieldresearch.com) among 500 U.S. adults with diabetes, between April 11th and April 19th, 2017, using an email invitation and an online survey.
Results of any sample are subject to sampling variation. The magnitude of the variation is measurable and is affected by the number of interviews and the level of the percentages expressing the results. For the interviews conducted in this particular study, the chances are 95 in 100 that a survey result does not vary, plus or minus, by more than 4.4 percentage points from the result that would be obtained if interviews had been conducted with all persons in the universe represented by the sample.
[iii] The card is not insurance; it is a cash discount program and cannot be combined with any form of health insurance. Those insured by any government healthcare program, such as Medicare or Medicaid, are NOT eligible for this offer. Some insurers may
offer a lower cost option.
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