Addressing Financial Challenges
MS can affect a person’s financial situation through 65:
- Direct costs such as medications and co-pays for visits to health care providers
Indirect costs such as loss of income due to
disability, inability to work or diminished productivity
MS treatment can be expensive. Medication costs, doctor visit bills and mobility-equipment costs all add up. Even though the majority of people living with MS have access to medical care, 43% of individuals with MS surveyed reported that their financial situation had affected their ability to access medical care at some point. 66
Employment can also be an issue for both people with MS and their employers.
- Only 33% of people with MS reported being employed in a 2012 survey conducted by the National Disability Institute of the Multiple Sclerosis Association of America 66
study, which examined the impact of MS on a person’s employment,
- Absenteeism ranged from approximately 3 to 8 days annually
- Total sick time ranged from about 7 to 21 days annually
Several resources are available to help your patients with employment issues, including government and legal employment protections such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and the US Department of Labor Office of Disability Employment Policy. Encourage them to request that their employers be compliant with ADA requirements regarding reasonable accommodation for employees with disabilities. The National Multiple Sclerosis Society (NMSS) is an excellent resource for people with MS, with detailed information about support and services.
Financial assistance resources
Employee assistance programs (EAPs)
- Many companies have EAPs, employer-based benefit programs that can help your patients with personal challenges, including the financial strain of a chronic condition such as MS 68
- Advise your patients to contact their Human Resources Administrator for information regarding their program’s specific benefits
You can also inform your patients about patient assistance programs for financial support from pharmaceutical manufacturers if they are struggling with out-of-pocket expenses for medication and/or other aspects of MS treatment.
Independent co-pay assistance foundations
An independent co-pay assistance foundation is a charitable organization providing financial assistance to patients with specific disease states.
NMSS offers resources to help address the financial impact of living with MS and help patients plan for a future with MS.
Your patients who have served in the military may be eligible for several programs and services provided by the VA.
Since 2010, the ACA has offered options for care coverage previously unavailable, including mandated coverage for those with preexisting conditions—an essential protection for your patients with a chronic disease like MS.
Care partners can also face a financial burden because of their caregiving duties. They can suffer a loss in income as more and more time is required at home. But there are strategies care partners can employ to offset the loss of income. 69