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Alleviating the Weight of Chronic Disease

 
 

MDEImagine you have a chronic disease. It’s not hard – roughly half of all American adults are living with at least one chronic condition.

Now, imagine you just learned your insurance co-pay for the medications you need will cost 66 percent more on the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange (MHBE) silver plan than on a standard plan you might purchase through your employer.

Maryland is an exciting place to live and work. It’s the birthplace of religious freedom in the Union, the setting for the TV megahit, The Wire, and home to the groundbreaking podcast, Serial. Despite these claims to fame, our great state is also facing one of the most challenging chronic disease situations in the nation.

The rate of diagnosed chronic diseases is rising across the Chesapeake Bay State and with it comes increased co-pay burdens for patients and a growing financial strain.

Add to that the introduction of the Maryland Exchange and you have a situation where newly insured patients are struggling to pay the high out-of-pocket co-pays for the lifesaving medications they need to survive.

So why should we care?

Historically, heart disease, cancer and stroke – all chronic diseases – are the leading causes of death in Maryland. Roughly 210 and 45 of every 100,000 deaths are attributed to heart disease and stroke, with cancer accounting for an unprecedented 25 percent of all state deaths in 2005.

While the emotional turmoil brought by living with such conditions is unescapable, the financial havoc they evoke is equally distressing. Co-pays for life saving medications can be unattainably high.

For some, the financial burden is simply too great. In many circumstances, patients resort to filling fewer prescriptions, which in turn can lead to more frequent hospitalizations and increased costs to the Maryland taxpayer. A new study by the Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease estimates a $142 million increase in hospital spending over the next five years due to exactly this event.

The facts seem bleak, but there is hope. Organizations are spearheading initiatives to help patients with chronic conditions get access to the medications they need to survive. Good Days from CDF, a national non-profit, is doing precisely this by helping patients pay their co-pays. No patient should have to choose between putting food on the table or treating their illness. Keeping patients on a medication regimen is best for both patients and the health care system at large.

So how can we get Maryland financially and physically healthy? Enacting transparent, dependable health care coverage with reasonable co-pays is a start. Doing so will help ensure medication compliance. This coupled with taking steps to prevent chronic disease will go a long way to improving the overall well-being of Marylanders and reducing the burden of high hospital spending.

Clorinda Walley leads the charity with more than 18 years of experience in the healthcare industry and over 6 years in strategic philanthropy. She effectively oversees the strategic and operational responsibility for the staff and programs for Good Days from CDF, as well as the expansion and execution of its mission. With in-depth knowledge of the organization’s core programs, operations and business plans, Clorinda ensures the organization’s programmatic excellence. With her proven expertise, Clorinda has continuously ensured consistent quality of finance and administration, procurement of donations, internal and external communications and development of all patient care initiatives.