Raising Women’s Voices

Patients with chronic illnesses forego treatment in recession

Posted in Affordability, Health Disparities, Insurance companies, Pre-existing conditions by raisingwomensvoices on April 15, 2009

The recession has left virtually no one unaffected, and those with chronic ailments are definitely no exception.  The New York Daily News reports that diabetics are cutting back on visits to the doctor, insulin and blood sugar testing, actions that could have lethal repercussions.  Adding to the severity of the situation, more individuals are being diagnosed with diabetes each year, with 1.6 million new cases in 2007.  Without insurance, the cost of care for diabetics can range from $350 to $900 each month.  Furthermore, the medications and treatments for the condition have declined. 

The New York Times recently published an article detailing the case of a man whose insurance company paid for the removal of his brain tumor, but not complete cost of the cancer pills that his doctor prescribed for his treatment.  The pills, Temodar, cost $5,500 for the first 42-day, then $1,700 each month thereafter.  In cases of cancer, oral drugs are quickly replacing IV treatments as the most successful options, but insurance companies and prescription drug plans often do not cover the treatment.  Only providing minimal coverage, these plan often leave patients to pay the majority of the bill.  As result, some patients are not able to receive the medications that they desperately need.  Medicare Part D’s “doughnut hole” is another factor contributing to the lack of access to health care and prescription drugs.  Not only do oral cancer drugs require a 25% co-pay, the doughnut hole ceases to provide coverage when health care costs reach $2,700; coverage is reinstated after beneficiaries pay health costs  totaling more than $3000 out-of-pocket.

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