From medications and treatments to specialist visits and travel costs, managing a lifelong condition can take a heavy financial toll.
Living with a chronic condition can affect a person’s life in many ways. There’s a physical, mental, and even financial toll that comes along with a diagnosis.
The costs that come with having psoriasis can often go unrecognized. There are obvious expenses — like doctor’s appointments, consultation fees, hospital admissions, medication, and treatment costs — but also hidden costs. These can include the price of transportation to and from appointments, nonprescription products to help manage symptoms, specialist foods, and sensitive skin-specific hygiene and cosmetic products.
When you have a chronic condition like psoriasis, you’re encouraged not to “suffer in silence.” You’re told to seek help. But when that help comes with a hefty price tag, it begs the question — is healthcare accessible to all?
During a recent radio interview, the interviewer said to me, “Sometimes I feel sorry for general practitioners. They are expected to be able to recognize and treat every condition.”
I couldn’t help but respectfully disagree. It’s their job to know what we, the patients, do not.
In some countries, it’s not necessary to be referred to a dermatologist by a general practitioner, but in others going through your GP is the only way to secure an appointment with a specialist. If they don’t diagnose you right, it can put you on a long and frustrating journey to find relief.
A GP will refer you to the specialist they feel is most suitable, but when you go to see that specialist, they may feel you actually need to see someone different. According to a 2018 survey, patients on average see three medical professionals before they hit on an effective treatment plan.
The problem with this is that you must pay for each consultation, and the price is not always clear. A lot of clinics don’t publish their pricing on their website. Depending on your insurance plan, you may have to pay several hundred dollars for an initial consultation. The fee doesn’t include the cost of any treatments or medication that may be prescribed during the visit.
In many regions, there is a shortage of dermatologists, which leads to people being put on lengthy waiting lists. This can delay diagnosis and treatment.
Unfortunately, consultation fees are not the biggest expense associated is psoriasis — it’s the treatments themselves that rack up the greatest bill.
The cost of treatments can vary considerably depending on whether you use topical applications, phototherapy, or systematic or biologic treatments. Depending on your treatment path, you could pay between $5,000 and $27,000 annually. Biologic medications are the most expensive, and they’re not always covered by health insurance.
How often you need to see your doctor for treatment will largely depend on the severity of your psoriasis and the treatment route you take. If your symptoms are relatively mild, you may only need to visit them twice a year. But if you’re taking oral or injectable medications, you could be required to see a doctor every 6 to 12 weeks. The more severe your psoriasis is, the higher the cost.
The day-to-day costs are perhaps the most overlooked. These are costs associated with managing and relieving your psoriasis symptoms, like the price of over-the-counter creams and moisturizers.
Many of us with psoriasis have skin that is quite sensitive, reactive, and prone to irritation. We can’t use just any shampoo, body and hand washes, moisturizers, laundry detergents, or cosmetics without risking painful symptoms. Products made specifically for people with sensitive skin tend to be more expensive.
Although it can be hard to qualify for disability with psoriasis in the U.S., it can be quite debilitating and affect your ability to work. You may need to take leave from work during a bad flare, reduce your hours if you cannot perform your duties, change professions, or even stop working completely.
Loss of income can be an indirect cost of psoriasis.
There are several ways you can reduce the cost of your psoriasis management.
In some countries, there are state plans in place that reduce or alleviate the cost of GP visits and consultation fees. Similarly, some insurance plans will cover or partly cover the costs of these visits. You may even be eligible to receive money back or pay a lower rate if you have a referral.
Subsidies differ from territory to territory, but you may be eligible for more benefits than you realize. For instance, in Ireland, you may be eligible for a medical card or GP visit card if you meet certain criteria. You can even claim back tax on consultation fees.
Check out what programs your federal and state governments have to ease some of your medical costs.
Once I developed a greater understanding of my psoriasis, I was able to treat it more effectively.
Try not to buy into things that seem too good to be true. A lot of people spend thousands chasing “the miracle cure.” Often these come at a high financial cost and don’t deliver the desired results.
Clear skin is achievable in some cases, but it’s important to understand once psoriasis is triggered it’s a lifelong condition. Its severity, look, and where it presents may change over the years, but it’s always there. Once you recognize and accept that psoriasis will be part of you forever, it’s much easier to live with.
Better education, understanding of the condition, and acceptance can help you save money by avoiding expensive and ineffective treatments.
Know what you can realistically achieve through treatment. Having realistic expectations cuts down on the number of treatments you undergo and the products you try.
Multiple studies found a high percentage of patients were unhappy with their treatment because it didn’t do what they thought it would — completely clear their skin. If they had a discussion with their doctor about what was possible for them, they may have spent less on ineffective treatments and products.
Your doctor will discuss what treatment options are best for you based on your type of psoriasis, its severity, and your main symptoms.
Finding what treatment regimen is right can be an expensive path of trial and error. You need to weigh your options, look at what’s out there, and think about the symptoms you want to lessen or alleviate.
Keep a diary, noting the effectiveness of certain treatments and products. It will allow you to identify which types work well and what kinds to avoid buying again.
Psoriasis can be an expensive condition to manage, but there are plenty of ways to cut down on costs and lessen the financial burden. Some people aren’t aware of the government subsidies or other coupons available to them. Doing your research into programs, talking with your doctor, and setting reasonable expectations can help you cut down on your psoriasis treatment costs.
Medically reviewed on August 31, 2022
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