Rheumatoid Arthritis: How to Pay for Treatment
Financial aid and assistance programs can help you pay for your rheumatoid arthritis medicine. Look into these resources to find funding that may work for you.
By Denise Maher
Medically Reviewed by Alexa Meara, MD
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Treatment for rheumatoid arthritis often involves prescription medication, and can also include surgery, biologic therapies, and physical and complementary therapies, too. With a chronic illness like rheumatoid arthritis, expenses can add up quickly. If you have insurance, it will often cover many treatment costs, but you may still face significant out-of-pocket expenses for deductibles, complementary and alternative therapies, or other noncovered charges. If you can't afford these expenses, how can you continue to get the treatment you need?
Positive News About Expensive Drugs
The good news: There are a number of financial assistance resources available for people living with rheumatoid arthritis. Though it can be a challenge to navigate what’s out there, keep in mind that support exists. “It’s important to realize that the moment somebody needs this kind of help is when they’re most vulnerable and when they’re probably not thinking the clearest. First and foremost, just take a deep breath,” says Seth Ginsberg, president and co-founder of CreakyJoints, a nonprofit organization that provides information, advocacy, and research for people with RA.
Aiming to make the process less overwhelming, CreakyJoints recently released a comprehensive patient’s guide to living with rheumatoid arthritis, which includes resources for financial assistance. We've compiled the list below to help you figure out where to go — and what to do — to take advantage of what's available.
Financial Assistance: Affordable Care Act
The Affordable Care Act, upheld by the Supreme Court in 2012, offers many benefits for the rheumatoid arthritis community. According to the Arthritis Foundation website, the Affordable Care Act prohibits discrimination based on health status, establishes lower out-of-pocket costs, provides access to cheaper biologic drugs, and eliminates lifetime caps on coverage.
Financial Assistance: NeedyMeds
The organization NeedyMeds is a one-stop resource for people who need financial help for many medical conditions, including rheumatoid arthritis. On the NeedyMeds website, you can find information on federal- and state-sponsored health insurance programs, private patient assistance programs, and programs that offer financial help for specific conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis. NeedyMeds also provides a tip sheet on how to save money on medication, along with a list of brand name and generic drugs, and the patient assistance programs that cover or discount their costs.
Financial Assistance: Good Days
Good Days is a nonprofit charitable organization that provides financial assistance to people with chronic conditions, including RA. Good Days can help pay for medication and treatment, work with you to find the right insurance coverage for your needs, and assist with travel costs and arrangements for eligible patients. They offer same-day approval for applications. To find out if you qualify, go to mygooddays.org.
Financial Assistance: Drug Company Programs
For low-income people who cannot afford their prescriptions, a number of drug companies provide ways to obtain free or low-cost medication. Often referred to as Patient Assistance Programs, each of these has different rules and application processes.
Below are some of the patient assistance programs offered by companies that make drugs for rheumatoid arthritis:
Financial Assistance: State Programs
Another way to get financial help for rheumatoid arthritis medication is through your state's discount prescription program. For example, any resident of Washington state may qualify to obtain a prescription drug discount card through the Washington Prescription Drug Program. Participating pharmacies accept the card and provide the discount at the time of sale.
The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) has information on which states have established or authorized prescription drug assistance programs. Take a look at the NCSL report for a list of which states currently have programs and whether changes to the program are under way.
Financial Assistance: Medicare or Medicaid
Two federal health insurance programs provide low- or no-cost health insurance to certain individuals. Medicare insurance is available to people 65 and older, some disabled people under 65, and people with end-stage renal disease (permanent kidney failure treated with dialysis or a transplant). Medicare has several plans that provide coverage for prescription drugs.
Medicaid is a federal health insurance program run by individual states, so each state sets its own guidelines regarding eligibility and services. Medicaid is available only to certain low-income individuals and families who fit into an eligibility group that is recognized by federal and state law.
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