Text Size: a  |   a 

Affording Your MS

February 5, 2018

When working, you may have had great medical insurance. Now, unfortunately, if you aren’t working, your insurance comes with a $6,000 deductible and doesn’t cover any medications. Retiring early because of your multiple sclerosis means your pension might be putting you over the limit for Medicare in the United States. You might not be old enough to get disability payments due to being old enough to get Social Security, yet you may not be old enough to get Medicare.

The Kaiser Family Foundation had released research showing that even if you are on Medicare, you might be having a lot of trouble trying to pay your medical bills. According to the study, in 2013 more than 50 percent of those on traditional Medicare (Parts A, B and D) spent at least 14 percent of their total income on out-of-pocket healthcare costs. Twenty-five percent spent nearly 30 percent of their income and 10 percent spent almost 60 percent of their income.

Authors of the study wrote, “With half of all Medicare beneficiaries living on annual per capita income of less than $26,200, out-of-pocket health care costs can pose a challenge, particularly for beneficiaries with modest incomes and those with significant medical needs.”

Not to mention that if you’re in poor health, over the age of 85 and have an income less than $20,000, your situation is even worse.

The Kaiser analysis claims that under current U.S. government policies, by 2030 those spending 20 percent of their income on health care will rise from 36 to 42 percent. This makes it extremely important to be politically aware of what is going on especially in regards to paying for income and corporate tax reductions by reducing spending on Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security.

Thankfully, there are some things that can help you throughout this exhausting process. The Multiple Sclerosis Society of America has programs to provide, at no cost, things as simple as cooling vests and various assistance equipment. Another huge helping hand provided by the organization is assistance for paying magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) exams.

In the US, many drug companies have programs that assist MS patients by providing their high-costing MS drugs to patients at largely discounted rates or sometimes even for free. The National Multiple Sclerosis Society has a drug-by-drug list of programs on its website as well.

If your drug company is unable to assist you with your copay, a foundation is a great option to consider as they can approve a monetary grant for you. This grant can cover your copays and be paid directly to the pharmacy that is providing your drugs for a specific amount of times. A list of some of these foundations that are paying for MS drugs can be found here.

Other MS patients experiencing these same difficulties suggest seeing if your medical provider can give you a cash discount of make it possible to pay over time with no interest. They also suggest asking your pharmacist about prices for prescription drugs using insurance, and without using insurance. You can also compare prices on GoodRx.