People living with chronic conditions have health management needs beyond their primary treatment that are not being met. This four-part series examines the behaviors and attitudes of chronic condition communities to determine approaches that can help them better manage their health — holistically, for their entire selves.
Chronic condition management is complex, requiring the navigation of physical, emotional, and mental health. But managing the actual cost of living with a chronic condition makes for an entirely different level of complexity.
The direct costs of care, including treatments and recurring doctors’ appointments, as well as the indirect costs such as travel and missed work, can be astronomical. Even just communicating with insurance companies can be time-consuming, overwhelming, and stressful. In order for those living with chronic conditions to refocus their energy toward improving their quality of life, they need more resources and greater access to financial options.
In-office conversations around cost and coverage
When someone with a chronic condition is in a specialist’s office, it’s assumed that their first concern is around treatment efficacy or side effects. Not so, says a dermatologist in Healthline Media’s Medical Affairs Network. In fact, the biggest concern for many patients has to do with the cost of treatment and insurance coverage.
Healthline Media’s resident pulmonologist agrees, saying that when a new treatment is recommended for someone with COPD, the first question is usually:
“Is there anything cheaper? I can’t afford this or it’s not covered.”
A Healthline Media Medical Affairs Network rheumatologist noted the same: “The cost of medications in the U.S. remains the top issue for almost all people with rheumatoid arthritis.”
Valuable in-office time is therefore spent discussing cost and insurance instead of efficacy or side effects. Needless to say, for those with chronic conditions to stay on track with their healthcare, they must have regular and ongoing conversations with their providers about their health, not their pocketbooks.
Healthline Media knows the value of in-office conversation and how that time should be spent discussing the treatment itself, not its cost. With content and tools that provide clarity around the ins-and-outs of insurance coverage and the price of treatment, Healthline Media will arm people living with chronic conditions with what they need to know so they can focus their time in-office around the treatment.
Worry over cost of care
Whether they take existing or new-to-market drugs, people with chronic conditions worry about their insurance coverage and how much they’ll have to pay out of pocket, according to proprietary Healthline Media research. Despite it varying according to condition, drug, and insurance plan, the worry is ever-present:
People with chronic conditions who are concerned their insurance will not cover new treatment options:
Additionally, regardless of efficacy or doctor recommendation, many people living with chronic conditions make treatment decisions based on cost and coverage alone, despite the potential negative effects this may have on their health.
People with chronic conditions who have switched medications due to high out-of-pocket costs:
People living with chronic conditions need solutions that will help them better navigate the complexities around cost and coverage — clear and easy-to-comprehend guides and resources will help these communities find the answers they need so they can focus more on their treatment’s efficacy and potential side effects. They find these resources by performing research:
Those living with chronic conditions are avid researchers and use digital resources, like Healthline.com and MedicalNewsToday.com, to find out information about their health. Recent data (2019–20) from Healthline Media shows that they also investigate insurance or cost of care information about their treatment options (13% of those with rheumatoid arthritis and 13% of those with psoriasis). Respondents say that doing independent research provides them with a foundation for in-office conversations and arms them with the proper questions to ask their specialists.
Sometimes the decision is difficult
The cost to treat any chronic condition is steep, considering both the direct and indirect costs of care. People living with HIV face dizzyingly high price tags for medication and care. According to amFAR, the Foundation for AIDS Research, the annual cost of HIV medication for one person ranges from $36,000 to $48,000, even with generic options and whether or not it’s covered by insurance. This estimate does not account for doctors’ appointments, copays and coinsurance, add-on treatments, or indirect costs of care such as travel, missed work, or supplements.
These exorbitant costs can take a tremendous financial toll on individuals who are already dealing with increased mental and emotional health challenges. For some, the enormous cost of treatment can mean the difference between taking medication or making rent:
“My struggle with economic stress and housing issues make taking a pill a lesser priority.” - Healthline Media reader living with HIV
Many people who live with various chronic conditions would like a larger conversation around the real costs of treatment: “I would like to see some stories of the more realistic, much higher percentage of people like me where [their condition] has wrecked their finances and caused major setbacks and changes in our lives,” says one Healthline Media reader living with IBS.
Readers, like this one, drive a demand for greater conversation around the financial aspect of living with a chronic condition, and Healthline Media solves for that need with content, guides, and tools that provide clarity and a supportive approach to their financial health.
Financial wellness in the context of chronic condition management is often filled with red tape from insurance companies, assistance programs, and even pharmacies. These complications can make chronic condition health journeys even more challenging than they already are.
Healthline Media provides clarity for people with chronic conditions, including information on how to navigate the costs of treatment and care, resources for finding assistance and guidance, and options for a healthier quality of life. Financial wellness is only a part of the whole person health approach that people with chronic conditions need, and Healthline Media is there with solutions.
If you’re interested in deeper analysis of mental health and its relationship with chronic conditions, reach out to your Healthline Media representative or email us to find out how we can provide custom solutions for your brand.
Sources: 2019 Healthline Media Planning Insights Lab data (IBS, UC, CD); 2020 Healthline Media Planning Insights Lab data (HIV, PsO, PsA, COPD, RA)