Being sick in America is expensive, and for those with chronic or long-term illness it can be physically and financially devastating. A study by the U.S. Senate’s Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee found that about 29% of disabled Americans live in poverty.
The World Health Organization notes, “People who fall ill often face a dire choice: either to suffer and perhaps die without treatment, or to seek treatment and push their family into poverty. Those who suffer from long-standing chronic diseases are in the worst situation, because the costs of medical care are incurred over a long period of time.” In the USA, the cost of healthcare makes it prohibitive for many individuals. CNBC reports that 1.7 million people in the USA file for bankruptcy every year due to medical bills. It’s the most common cause of bankruptcy in the country. It’s not hard to imagine that for someone with a chronic, serious and/or long-term illness, debt can accrue quickly and have devastating effects.
The Affordable Care Act mandates that Americans enroll for some level of health insurance, but that does not mean that those Americans can actually afford the medical treatment. It’s not uncommon for plans to have high deductibles before coverage kicks in. Insurance premiums, including those for Medicare, government insurance for the elderly and disabled, frequently cost hundreds of dollars a month. Certain drugs might not be covered by insurance at all, and might cost thousands out of pocket.
Day to day expenses can be higher for those battling a disability. For instance, one might find that they have less choices – and end up paying more for housing – because you need a ground floor apartment or a building with an elevator. You might have to add a wheelchair ramp or otherwise modify your home. You might have to pay for grocery delivery because you just can’t get to the store or carry shopping bags. You might require paid help with other tasks, such as cleaning or doing the laundry. The collective burden carried by those in our community varies, and often a need in one area impacts the needs in another area.
At Good Neighbor Rx we do our best to provide affordable prescriptions for everyone, and while our users save an average of $82 per prescription filled we know that, alone, it isn't enough. Chronically ill individuals struggle to maintain a healthy quality of life. When there is a struggle to afford housing, food and medical care, it puts undue stress on individuals and their families. Being sick shouldn’t lead to poverty. Right now that’s the case for many, and that is not okay.