Multiple sclerosis is a chronic condition that targets the central nervous system and can often leave patients disabled for life. No known cure has yet been found for this lifelong disease, and its progress, severity and symptoms cannot be anticipated beforehand.
Today an estimated 16,000 people in Australia have been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis out of which women are three times more affected than men.
The Cost Of Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
The costs incurred by the government stand approximated at $2 billion annually out of which $150 million are attributed to loss of productivity, another $250 million are spent in the replacement cost of informal care while many other Australians with multiple sclerosis end up paying a staggering $160 million out of their own funds as health costs.
One of the biggest ways in which multiple sclerosis impacts the country’s economic system is that a huge majority of those afflicted with the disease fall in the working age. Figures are estimated at an astounding 87% of the patients belonging to the work force.
Why Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Patients Struggle To Cover Their Medical Expenses
Typically the average age for a confirmed diagnosis in Australia is around 30 which puts a lot of the patients at risk of losing their current employment, loss of income due to absenteeism, or if still employed after their deteriorating condition, individuals are likely to earn less than other members of the society.
More than half of the health costs for multiple sclerosis that are faced by the Australian government are spent on patients aged between 35 and 54 years old. The biggest cost factor for these patients is the amount spent on pharmaceuticals during the course of their treatment. According to statistics of a 2005 survey, this amounts to around $72.4 million.
The cost of pharmaceuticals tends to fluctuate with the patient profile. For instance, for younger patients, the cost of medication will likely dominate other treatment aspects but as the patients age, residential care will come out as the largest cost component.
The same survey places residential accommodation costs as the second largest cost factor for the government. This aspect of the expenses is affiliated with providing elderly citizens above the 75 years and older bracket with proper aged care facilities. Estimates were around $22.2 million for this part of the expense profile.
Based on data from the same survey, the costs for accommodating hospital inpatients was the third largest expense factor for the government resting at $13.7 million. Additional expenses incurred involve fees for general practitioners, allied health professionals and out of hospital staff such as medical specialists.
In addition to all personnel involved in the multiple sclerosis treatment process, the Australian government also has to meet expenses related to multiple sclerosis research in the country. Research related expenses for multiple sclerosis were estimated at $2.2 million according to the survey data.
The same data projects that by the next five years the costs of multiple sclerosis treatment is estimated to increase by 27%. This takes into account the pressing need for more residential care as the population ages, the rising costs of pharmaceuticals as well as those of hospital stays and expenditure involved.
How To Overcome Medical Debt When You Have Multiple Sclerosis
Individuals living with multiple sclerosis can find it difficult to pay for medical treatment long term due to the impacts the disease can have on the patient as well as the entire family or household.
As a result, families who are struggling to pay for their medical expenses for multiple sclerosis can seek assistance through a number of charities and non-profit organisations that can assist.
In addition, multiple sclerosis patients may be eligible for government benefits and programs such as the disability pension. These programs are available to assist patients and their families with ongoing costs and can be used to pay for medication, treatment and even everyday household and living expenses.
If these options for financial assistance is not enough, individuals with multiple sclerosis can also seek assistance directly from family and friends. You can do this easily through setting up an online fundraiser to raise funds for medical treatment and medication.
Websites such as PeoplePledge can help families setup a fundraiser online free of charge. This means, there are no added costs or risk to you or your family to start a fundraiser. Your fundraising page can be easily shared through social media websites like Facebook, Twitter and even through email. Fundraising for multiple sclerosis can assist patients who would like to go overseas for treatment not available in Australia, who require assistance with ongoing medication costs or who would like to receive treatment that may not be covered by the Medicare system or by your health insurance policy.
1. Acting Postitively: Strategic Implications Of The Economic Costs Of Multiple Sclerosis In Australia: http://www.msra.org.au/files/msra/docs/AccessEconomicsReportWinter2005.pdf
2. MS Australia General Facts: http://www.everydayhero.com.au/events/downloads/0000/0398/Quick_Facts_Sheet.pdf