Lung disease is a major problem in the United States. In fact, the American Lung Association¹ reported that as many as 37 million Americans live with chronic lung disease. This includes asthma, COPD and bronchitis. Unfortunately, for some with lung disease, the expenses associated with treatment are more than they can afford. They often have to choose between receiving the care they need or supporting their families.
On top of that, lung disease patients may have to sacrifice opportunities and make drastic lifestyle changes that carry a different kind of cost for an individual. Here are all the ways lung disease can cost you.
Financial Expenses of Lung Disease
The United States healthcare system is not perfect. Some people may not have access to the best care because they don’t have insurance or the right coverage. Also, depending on the type of lung disease a person has, expenses can add up quickly if there are frequent flare-ups or hospital stays involved.
Some hospital expenses a person with lung disease may need to cover include:
Gas diffusion test
Exercise stress test
Oxygen and other supplies
Emergency room visit
Chest tube procedures
Bloodwork and lab tests
Room and care charges for hospital stays
Of course, this list is not exhaustive, and there may be other types of tests or procedures required. Although your insurance may cover some of the cost, such as the cost of a CT scan, it’s very rare that every expense is entirely paid by a person’s health insurance policy.
Even with coverage, patients must usually pay deductibles, copays and premiums for their insurance, which can be very high. In fact, a study published in the International Journal of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease² stated that out of 37,089 insured patients in the United States, the average cost of dealing with COPD ranged from $3,238 all the way up to $76,159.
Cost of Medication
Different types of lung disease require various medications to help relieve symptoms and improve a person’s quality of life. For example, people with COPD may need a bronchodilator or inhaled steroids to open their airways. Somebody with asthma might need a different inhaler or medication that is taken orally.
Several factors come into play when it comes to insurance covering the cost of these lung disease medications. If you need drugs to help with your lung disease symptoms, some questions to ask your physician and insurance representative may include:
What drugs do I need, and for how long?
Are generic drugs available?
What kinds of prescription medication does my insurance plan cover?
Is this drug available at discount drug outlets?
What is the monthly dosage for the medication?
Does your practice offer discounts on this medication?
Do I qualify for an insurance plan that provides better coverage on prescription drugs?
Lung disease patients should never have to skip taking essential medication simply because they can’t afford it. However, the reality is that prescription drugs can cost hundreds of dollars every month.
Lost Wages or Promotions
Lung disease takes a toll on a person in many ways. Conditions such as COPD and chronic bronchitis make it very difficult to breathe, which leaves people feeling tired and unable to complete even simple activities. If a person’s lung disease symptoms start to worsen, it can have a significant impact on their ability to work. In some cases, patients may have to take a leave of absence or even quit their job completely due to their health condition.
Losing a steady income and possibly insurance coverage is a huge financial cost of dealing with lung disease. Even when patients are able to keep their job, they may be less likely to pursue more responsibilities or a better position because of their compromised health.
Lifestyle Costs to an Individual
Apart from the financial cost, there are other ways people must pay for lung disease. Chronic conditions can alter a person’s way of life and prevent them from doing the things they enjoy.
Missed Time With Family and Friends
Again, lung disease can make it very hard for a person to breathe and take part in activities that require exertion. This could mean less time spent playing with the kids or grandkids, going for a walk or hike with friends, choosing to go on a long vacation or attending a family member’s special occasion.
Giving Up Hobbies and Activities
Because lung disease patients often need medication, oxygen and medical devices to help with breathing (such as nebulizers), it can be hard to maintain an active lifestyle. If a person wants to take up a new hobby or work on being healthier through exercise, it becomes much more difficult after being diagnosed with chronic lung disease.
Mental and Emotional Health Costs
According to the American Lung Association³, people who suffer from COPD often deal with feelings of sadness, fear and overwhelming stress that affects their mood and mental health. It’s common for those living with lung disease to struggle with negative emotions that come with coping with their symptoms and lifestyle limitations.
Anxiety and clinical depression can actually have a detrimental effect on a patient’s health. If you’re coping with lung disease and are experiencing negative feelings that could affect your treatment, speak with your healthcare professional. It’s essential to have support and guidance for your mental health, as well as your physical health.
Preventative Healthcare to Avoid Lung Disease
It’s so important to prioritize your health now to avoid dealing with the health problems and overall costs of lung disease. Some ways to focus on being more proactive with your health are to quit smoking, stay active, eat healthy and have a lung CT scan to catch any potential hazards before they become major issues.
Preventative Diagnostic Center offers affordable, low-dose CT scans in Las Vegas for those looking to stay on top of their health. To learn more, contact our team today!
¹American Lung Association. Our Impact. Retrieved 1 October 2021 from https://www.lung.org/about-us/mission-impact-and-history/our-impact
Dr. John J. Pierce is the Medical Director at Preventative Diagnostic Center. He is Board-certified in Emergency Medicine as well as Board-certified by the American Board of Anti-Aging and Regenerative Medicine. He received his medical training from Western University of Health Sciences, College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific, in Pomona California. He also has a Bachelor of Science degree in Kinesiology from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. In addition to his regular practice, Dr. Pierce serves as a Tactical Physician with the Las Vegas SWAT team.