By Jaime Moy
My 15-year-old son Andy and I both suffer from psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis. Psoriasis is a chronic disease of the immune system that appears as red scaly patches on the skin that crack and bleed. For many, the health problems related to the disease go far beyond the skin, causing psoriatic arthritis, heart disease, diabetes, depression, cancer and more. Access to treatment is vital.
For Andy and me, treatment includes chemotherapy and biologic medications. Without them, we would be spending most of our days in wheelchairs. Our days would be consumed with how to get rid of the itchy, burning plaques covering our bodies. We would wake up nightly in pain and feel tired all day. My son would have severe chest and jaw pain that would make eating and breathing very difficult. My eyes would stay inflamed and my vision may be permanently damaged. Thankfully, our medications make it so that we can function almost like normal. For us, treatment has significantly improved our quality of life.
Not everyone is as lucky. Access to care can be tricky, frustrating, and downright exhausting. Don’t give up. Help is available:
- Review online message boards to find out how others have gained access to care, even when it seemed like a dead end. Share your tips with others who may be experiencing the same roadblocks.
- Check with your state or local health department to see if they have a Children’s Special Health Care Services (CSHCS) program. In Michigan, children with chronic health conditions, including psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis, may qualify for Michigan’s Children’s Special Health Care Services, a division of Medicaid. While there are exceptions, CSHCS covers all services and treatments related to Andy’s chronic diseases that our primary health insurance does not cover. This includes all copays and coinsurances required by our primary insurance. There is a fee to join, but it is based upon income and family size.
- Contact drug manufacturers to find out if they have payment assistance programs to help defray medication costs. Sometimes, the assistance is based on financial need, but other times, it is an enrollment program that every patient can use.
- If you are lacking in treatment and care of your psoriasis or psoriatic arthritis, contact the National Psoriasis Foundation to find out what options may be available. The organization can help you find doctors, provide information on various treatments, and help you navigate insurance blocks.
Keep searching for alternatives and ways to turn a “no” into a “yes.” Everyone should have access to medical treatments.
On October 29, people from across the globe will unite in a common cause: speaking up and demanding access to fair and affordable treatment for their psoriasis. World Psoriasis Day aims to raise the profile of a condition that needs to be taken more seriously by national and international authorities. Join me and the National Psoriasis Foundation on World Psoriasis Day to make treatments affordable for all. Share your story and take action at www.psoriasis.org/wpd.
Jaime Moy is a National Psoriasis Foundation community ambassador in Waterford, MI. She and her son have psoriatic arthritis, an inflammatory type of arthritis that affects the joints and tendons and occurs in up to 30 percent of people with psoriasis.