Living with a chronic disease is not easy. It’s a challenge that both my husband and I deal with every day. For many of us living with long-term diseases, the hope that the Affordable Care Act would eliminate worries about the high cost of healthcare hasn’t rung true.
Doctors visits, repeated tests, finding medications to manage the condition, it all takes a toll. But the biggest stress we have is the fear that someday we may not be able to afford the medications that keep us healthy. But I’m hopeful that here in Massachusetts, that stress may be lifted, if our lawmakers act to make patient health a priority. A decade ago, when I was diagnosed with pulmonary hypertension, the medication that my doctor prescribed was out of my budget. The monthly cost for the drug was between $600-$700. Luckily, my provider allowed me to have the medication by working out a payment plan of $100 per month. Over the years, the costs continued to rise, and I asked my doctor about cheaper alternatives. Knowing my condition, and that I needed to remain on this specific medicine, he helped put me in touch with a non-profit that offers grants to people in my situation. We must re-apply for the grant every year, and recently we’ve almost not qualified.
Without that help, we would face a cost of $1100 per month for my medication – I don’t know many families that can afford that.
Thankfully, lawmakers in Massachusetts understand that, and are working to keep the costs of treating a chronic illness manageable.
Senate Bill 2096 would protect patients with chronic and rare diseases and put a cap on out of pocket expenses for medications at $1250 per year for an individual and $2500 per year for a family.
Capping expenses for families like ours is critical. In addition to the costs we could face for my condition, my husband’s illness requires specific medication that at times has also cost us hundreds of dollars a month.
For some families with chronic diseases, S.2096 is truly a lifeline—eliminating the fear that they’d have to choose between paying for critical medications and life’s other necessities.
Northeast Region/Massachusetts/Out of Pocket Costs
Date: July 16, 2014
Clip Type: Op Ed print and online
Clip Title: Higson: Help with high drug costs
Media Outlet: MetroWest Daily News/Milford Daily News
Circulation: 19, 919/8,628
Author: Cora Higson