Problems Affording Health CareRheumatoid arthritis not only causes bodily pain, it can also take a nasty bite out of your pocketbook, especially with new and expensive treatments. Over 40% of rheumatoid arthritis patients have difficulty affording medical care, according to research presented at the annual American College of Rheumatology (ACR) Scientific Meeting.
About The Study
The National Databank for Rheumatic Diseases study, authored by Dr. Roxabella Torres, Dr. Fred Wolfe and Kaleb Michaud, studied 8,062 rheumatoid arthritis patients from a longitudinal rheumatic disease databank.
The study showed:
- 32.3% of rheumatoid arthritis patients reported having moderate difficulty paying for medical care
- 8.2% of rheumatoid arthritis patients reported great difficulty paying for medical care
The remaining rheumatoid arthritis patients said they were able to pay for health care costs without much problem.
Of those patients reporting moderate or great difficulty paying for medical care:
- 37.3% did not buy drugs
- 7.1% skipped surgery because of costs
Compared to those who paid their medical costs without much problem, the patients reporting difficulty paying for health care costs also:
- earned less money
- had less household income
- had high rates of work disability
These patients also had more other illnesses (such as heart or lung problems), decreased functional ability and increased risk of death.
This study suggests that the severity of rheumatoid arthritis is the major contribution to a patients reduced ability to pay for health care costs.
What Is Rheumatoid Arthritis?
Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic disease that causes joint pain, swelling and damage leading to loss of function and disability.
Rheumatoid arthritis has several special features that make it different from other types of arthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis generally occurs in a symmetrical pattern, meaning that if one knee or hand is involved, the opposite side may also be affected. It can also affect other parts of the body besides the joints.
Another feature of rheumatoid arthritis is that it can vary greatly from person to person.
- Some people have milder symptoms that last only a few months or a year or two and may go away without causing any noticeable damage.
- Other people have moderate disease, with periods of worsening symptoms, called flares, and periods in which they feel better, called remissions.
- Others can have severe disease that is active most of the time, lasts for many years, and leads to serious joint damage and disability.
Features of Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Tender, warm, swollen joints
- Symmetrical pattern of affected joints
- Joint inflammation often affecting the wrist and finger joints closest to the hand
- Joint inflammation sometimes affecting other joints, including the:
- Chronic fatigue, low energy levels, occasional fevers, a general sense of not feeling well
- Pain and stiffness lasting for more than 30 minutes in the morning or after a long rest
- Symptoms that last for many years
- Variability of symptoms among people with the disease
According to the Arthritis Foundation, over 2.1 million people in the United States have rheumatoid arthritis. About 70% are women.
What Is The National Databank For Rheumatic Diseases?
The National Databank for Rheumatic Diseases (NDB) is a non-profit research databank performing unique clinical research in:
NDB research is designed to improve the treatment and outcomes of these conditions. The NDB performs outcomes research by direct interaction with rheumatology patients. Patients report on all aspects of their illness in detailed semi-annual questionnaires.
How Can Patients Enroll In NDB Research?
The NDB is currently seeking patients who have a diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, fibromyalgia, lupus or any other rheumatic condition to enroll in research. Patients report on all aspects of their illness in detailed semi-annual questionnaires filled out online. English-speaking US residents may also choose paper forms received through the mail. Interested patients may:
Related Resources - Arthritis Research
References: National Databank for Rheumatic Diseases, ACR 2005 Press Release, Nearly half of rheumatoid arthritis patients have difficulty affording medical care; NIH Publication No. 04-4179