In April I was admitted to the hospital with bilateral pneumonia. I was told when I left hospital that I have COPD. I have basically had to learn about my disease from the internet, because I have no insurance, and I do not qualify for any state programs. My company stopped our insurance program a year ago, so for the first time in 24 years, I am uninsured. I have applied with insurance companies and have been told that I have a pre disposition condition and my COPD won’t be covered. Do you have any idea of what I should do? My meds that were prescribed for me from the hospital are running out, and I have no idea of how I will continue to breathe. This dilemma has me very frightened and depressed.
–Diagnosed with no insurance
Thank you for your letter! Unfortunately the elements of health care reform (Affordable Care Act) that deal with the denial of coverage due to pre-existing conditions are not scheduled to take effect until 2014 (presently it is in effect for children). With that said, there are still avenues that you can explore. The scary part here is that if the Affordable Care Act is repealed as a result of this election, the insurance companies will continue to be allowed to deny pre-existing conditions.
35 states currently have a high risk pool that can offer coverage. The problem with these pools is that the premiums are generally high and often unaffordable, and they can exclude coverage for your condition for up to 6 months after signing up. Still, it is an option worth checking into.
Many drug companies offer reduced or low cost medications through special programs. Your acceptance and the amount you ultimately pay are generally based on your income. I know several people who have applied for assistance through these programs, and many were pleasantly surprised to find they qualified for significant reductions in the price of their medications. The first place to contact is the PPA (Partnership for Prescription Assistance). They will ask you for some information and determine what help can be provided to you. You can also visit the websites of the individual pharmaceutical companies to see what programs they offer.
As a result of a large number of generic medications now available, and many large retailers offering inexpensive generics, it is often possible to obtain many of the medications you require very inexpensively. Stores have a list of generic medications they offer that you can take to your doctor to prescribe from.
I’m glad to see you’re seeking information online and very glad you found the COPD Foundation. Basic and continuing education is vital for the most effective management of COPD. Check with your local hospital to ask if they have a breathing support group or know of one nearest to you. Attending regular meetings of a breathing support group can expose you to good, solid information and put you in touch with experts. Explain your situation to the group leader who might know of resources in your area. Check also with the social workers at your local hospital. They are familiar with community programs that help those without health insurance and limited funds. Call the C.O.P.D. infoline at 866-316-COPD (2673) with questions about managing your COPD. They are there to help.
Check out listservs such as COPD International and EFFORTS. The topic of inexpensive medications is often discussed and you might get some good leads. Also, explain your situation to your doctor and he might be able to help you out with samples.
In short, get yourself in the loop with reputable COPD resources providing education and support. You’ll be surprised how helpful they can be!
There is one additional test that you need to have done. Alpha-1 is a genetic form of COPD and is passed by parents carrying the gene. We often see Alpha-1 at a younger age, and there is a treatment that can greatly slow the progression of the disease. The test for Alpa-1 is free and consists of a simple blood test you can do at home. For more information on Alpha-1and obtaining an Alpha-1 test kit, visit their website or call the COPD Information line at 866-316-267. When you call the Information Line, they will send you a package of information on COPD and sign you up for a free subscription to the COPD Digest.
Medications are very beneficial in treating any lung condition, but are only a part of the total treatment package. Diet and exercise are equally important in overall success in living with COPD.
Lastly, it is vital that you protect your lungs as much as possible. This means avoiding smoking and second hand smoke, chemicals, perfumes, strong cleaning agents, dust and pollen. Make sure you get your yearly flu and pneumonia vaccines, and above all stay away from anyone who is sick!
We will be here if there is any way that we can be of help!
The COPD Coach
Ask the Expert is aimed at providing information for individuals with COPD to take to your doctor, and is not in any way intended to be medical advice.
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