You know that old expression about being “house poor”? It means that the majority of your income goes to your living expenses. Well, I have determined that I have become psoriasis poor. This is what happens when your disease significantly impacts your bank account. Now, I know we all get uncomfortable talking about finances. Trust me! I feel you. It took a lot for me to sit down and write this article, but I think it is something many of us can relate to but are too ashamed to talk about.
Mourning of the mail
Remember when mail used to be fun? Boy, oh boy do I wish I could go back to only getting birthday cards with $2 bills and Highlights subscriptions addressed to me. Gone are those days and here are the days of piled up medical bills. Recently I opened a bill from my doctor’s office for $985. Yep. I thought maybe that it was one of those “this is not a bill” just explaining what was being sent to my insurance, but further, inspection proved me sadly wrong. I owed that amount. This startling amount accrued while I was in the process of paying off another bill that they had sent to collections without much effort to try to work with me on a payment plan. The icing on the cake came the next day when I received yet another letter from the clinic notifying me that I am discharged as a patient from my dermatologist and primary care doctor because of aforementioned amounts due.
To say I was upset and mortified would be an understatement. When you have a chronic health condition that requires a prescription for some hefty medications, your medical team is pretty important. Have you tried to make a new patient appointment with a dermatologist lately? You are lucky if you can find something less than three months out. The sad thing is that the doctors are usually not notified and don’t have a say in the matter.
I could rant about our broken healthcare system, but I’m not trying to get a quarrel started. My point in sharing this is to let those of you that are also at home trying to sort through pages of medical bills know that you are not alone. A study from 2015 on the economic burden of psoriasis found that patients with psoriasis would pay a lifetime cost of $11,498 for relief of physical symptoms and emotional health.1 I think that number sounds even a little bit low. I just racked up nearly 1k in six months! This doesn’t even take into consideration the income lost from having to take time off of work for appointments or sick days.
All of this leaves me with a horrible feeling of guilt. I feel guilty that I didn’t try to figure out my portion beforehand. I feel guilty that I am causing a financial burden on my family and limiting us from buying a house or saving for a vacation. I feel guilty for not better preparing somehow for this.
If you have read on this far, I’m going to assume you are feeling some of these guilts too. Stop. Stop the guilt, and I promise I will try to stop beating myself up too. I may have been able to call my insurance, the billing company for the clinic, and whoever else to try and get an estimate (since that is all they will give you), but bottom line— would I have delayed my care? Probably not. When your skin is on fire and you are so fatigued that you can barely function, it’s hard to think of the financial repercussions. You just want to feel better, and that isn’t a shameful thing. I will always feel a level of guilt when it comes to the burden I have put on my family, but they don’t see me as a burden. They see every dime spent as an investment in making me stronger. Did you ask for this disease? No. There is nothing you or I could have done to prevent it. I have had to learn to save up as much as I can during the remission times and budget the best I can during the times I need more care. It’s a work in progress, but I’m trying each day and I hope you will to.
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