Patient Assistance Programs
When I was first diagnosed with psoriasis, I really thought my life was over. For someone who had no insurance, how in the world was I going to get treatment for a disease that was running rampant over my body?
17 years ago, I had so many things to learn. The doctors were little to no help with any information at the time. Seeing a commercial on television about psoriasis was non-existent. There were not the celebrity figures that have come out about their own stories of psoriasis. You basically were left to figure this all on your own or so I thought.
If I didn’t have medical insurance back then I surely did not have access to a computer for my own research. Fear and grief seemed to be my only friends in the beginning.
Finding a treatment option I could afford
Luckily for me, in the next town over from where I lived, there was a low-income hospital. The major drawback at the time for me was they had no dermatologist on staff. Because of that reason, I had to be seen in the general medicine clinic.
This hospital was a teaching hospital as well. Because of this fact, every intern doctor I saw went with topicals as a treatment. I cannot tell you the number of times I had to go back because the topicals were too expensive for me to afford at the time. After the topicals failed, methotrexate was prescribed with no effect on my symptoms at all.
After some time, it was decided by the doctors that treating psoriasis that was so widespread on my body needed to be done so with a biologic. How was that going to happen when I had no health insurance? If the topicals were expensive I knew the biologics were going to be insanely expensive.
My own experience with a patient assistance program
This was when I was first introduced to a patient assistance program, even though it was not called that at the time. It turned out this low-income hospital had a social services department. I was told to take the prescription for the biologic to them with some added paperwork.
Sometime around a week later, I received a phone call from them saying the company that made the biologic was going to supply it free to me for a full year. I could not believe it. By the next week, I was in my doctor’s office watching a nurse as she told me how to administer the shot to myself.
How to access these programs
I have had the experience of using these programs a couple of times since that first occurrence. The television ads for biologics all end the same way now. “If you are financially impacted, the company may be able to help.”
They are referring to the patient assistance programs. Most companies have them now. There is a drawback to these programs. If you are on Medicare or Medicaid you are not eligible. The National Psoriasis Foundation is working toward trying to change that but for the time being, it is still a factor.
You will not know if you do not try
If you need assistance to receive a biologic then, talk with your doctor. They may have discount cards they can give you. You can also talk with someone at the Patient Navigation Center of the National Psoriasis Foundation who can help guide you through these programs.
Last but not least you can contact the drug manufacturer directly. This might seem like a daunting task, but if they can help you, then it will all be worth it. You will not know if you do not try.
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