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High costs of health care: Plano charity helps those with chronic diseases, cancer

 
 

PSCFor those with chronic diseases and ongoing cancer treatments, the cost of purchasing the necessary medications can be high, affecting more than just the patient’s health.

When Everett Winters, a Plano resident, was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a type of cancer affecting the bone marrow, he was unsure if he would even survive the treatment he had to go through. However, after successfully undergoing treatment, he found that there were new issues that he faced: the high cost of medication.

“If you were to see me [now] … I think you’d be amazed that after having these treatments over the past two years, you would not  recognized me; my hair is back, and my wife and I are so thankful and blessed,” Winters said.

Winters found that his treatment was going to cost him about $16,000 every four months, or about $48,000 a year. And while insurance and Medicare helped to cover some of the cost, it did not do enough to help the retired 80-year-old. Outside help came from a Plano-based nonprofit called Good Days from CDF (GDCDF), formerly known as the Chronic Disease Fund.

Founded in 2003, the nonprofit helps patients cover the costs of their medication by working closely with pharmacies that provided the medications, and sometimes directly with patients’ doctors. According to GDCDF statistics, the organization was able to help nearly 120,000 patients last year, and since its inception has provided about $1 billion to help cover the costs of residents long-term treatments across the country.

“The patients with chronic diseases or cancer, treatment became very costly and many patients were having to make very difficult choices … many aspects of their lives were being affected … it’s not only affecting you physically, but also mentally and emotionally, … it effects your whole family,” said GDCDF Executive Director Clorinda Walley.

According to Walley, the average annual income of the patients the organization helps is a broad range, and that even residents with high incomes can often find it difficult to afford treatment. In most cases, patients can simply reach out to the organization for help. In others, such as Winters’ case, the organization reached out to him.

“They contacted me, and asked if they could be supportive of me in a financial way,” Winters said. “They have been absolutely marvelous and supportive … they make you understand that they are there, and you are important, and your recovery is so important.”

Much of the GDCDF’s funds come from public donations, Walley said. In addition to providing financial aid, the organization in some cases will even provide transportation and lodging assistants to patients, if they have a treatment that is far away and will require them to stay overnight.

“You don’t know us, until you need us,” Walley said. “We’ll continue as long as we see the need in this country continue to grow.”

Read the full story at Plano Star Courier.