Financial Assistance Programs For People Living With Lupus
Last updated: May 2023
Lupus, also known as systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), is a disorder that happens when your body’s immune system attacks your own organs and tissues. Your immune system normally detects and destroys foreign invaders such as bacteria and viruses. However, in lupus and other rheumatic diseases, the immune system turns on itself and attacks its own tissues.1
Lupus acts differently in different people, affecting a variety of systems in your body. These may include the skin, joints, kidneys, lungs, heart, brain, and blood cells. Because lupus acts differently in different people, its symptoms vary from person to person. It can, therefore, be hard to diagnose and treat.1
Financial strain of lupus
Lupus can be severe or milder. Some people suffer from skin rashes and fatigue. Others end up with kidney disease and require a kidney transplant. The cost of treating lupus can represent a real burden for people suffering from the disease.
Various groups have attempted to understand how much people with lupus have to pay to manage their disease. A recent study looked at healthcare costs borne by people with lupus. The authors found that people with mild disease paid less ($8,900 to $15,000) than people with moderate or severe disease ($22,300 to $83,000). In both cases, the expenses were substantial. The medicine costs alone represented about 19-23 percent of these total fees.2
Additionally, because lupus tends to affect women in prime working years, the disease also costs people in terms of lost work and income. Studies show people with lupus lose between $3,000 to $5,000 or even higher per year from missing work. And 19 to 49 percent of people with lupus are unemployed.2
Financial assistance for lupus
There are a number of organizations, foundations, and government programs in the U.S. that can provide financial help to people facing large medical bills from managing chronic diseases like lupus. Many of these programs only kick in only if your income falls below a certain level. Most require you to have insurance and to be receiving treatment in the US for a disease that your insurance plan covers. But there are other programs, as well, for people with low income or who do not have adequate insurance.3
Here are some organizations that may help with lupus treatment costs:3
The Assistance Fund
It helps cover co-payments, premiums, and deductibles for patients with insurance who have chronic illnesses.
Helps with co-payments, co-insurance, and deductibles for qualified patients.
It helps with co-payments, co-insurance, and premiums for people who cannot afford them.
Pan Access Network Foundation
Helps underinsured patients pay out-of-pocket expenses for medications.
United Healthcare Children’s Foundation
Helps families with children whose medical expenses are not fully covered by their commercial health insurance.
Quest Diagnostics Patient Assistance Program
Helps with co-payments for laboratory services for patients who qualify.
The US government offers Social Security programs to help people with long-term disabilities. Your benefits depend on how long you have worked and how long your illness or disability is expected to last. The U.S. Department of Labor also helps people apply for resources, get health coverage, pay for housing, and find employment.
Job Accommodation Network
Provides ideas for people with lupus about workplace accommodations.
Patient Advocate Foundation
Helps people with legal services related to medical debt or peoples’ ability to hold down a job because of illness. The organization also maintains directories of resources to help uninsured and underinsured people.
The Lupus Research Alliance refers to other resources, as well, for help with costs for people with low income or long-term medical bills.3
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