Parkinson’s disease is a neurological condition that causes patients to experience a number of uncomfortable symptoms including tremors, impaired coordination and stability, slow movement and rigidity of muscle groups. The disease is on the rise with about 30 Australians being diagnosed every day. As the condition is progressive and non-curable, the expenses incurred to patients are lifelong. Even with assistance from the government and other Parkinson’s disease financial assistance options, many patients are subjected to hefty out of pocket treatment costs.
Factors impacting the out of pocket costs of Parkinson’s disease
Since the condition affects more elderly people than those employed in the work force, there are various expenses that come with Parkinson’s disease treatment for older people. Chief among these is aged care for the elderly where Parkinson’s disease patients need to be placed in nursing homes or other facilities.
It is important to understand that Parkinson’s disease can exist along side other diseases and conditions. Patients in the later stages of Parkinson’s disease need a lot of assistance due to functional impairment as well as other issues like incontinence and dementia. Such patients cannot reside in their own homes without supervisory help and are often placed in homes. The costs associated with aged care residence is the highest that patients have to pay.
Depending on the stage of the treatment, Parkinson’s disease patients may be registered as either inpatients or out patients with the hospital. The number of visits and duration of hospital stay, if any, also adds to the total out of pocket costs for Australian Parkinson’s disease patients. Hospital costs are determined to have been the second largest expense for Parkinson’s disease patients.
In addition, Parkinson’s disease treatment also demands use for extensive pharmaceuticals which can include prescription and over the counter drugs along with non-subsidised prescription drugs as well. Pharmaceuticals make up for the third highest cost component for Parkinson’s disease patients.
When Parkinson’s disease patients need to be referred to other out of hospital medical specialists, and health practitioners, many may have to pay for the fees themselves as an out of pocket expense.
Individuals in the work force, who are diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease will also have to face additional expenses or financial losses other than those related to their medical treatment. These financial losses can results from the inability to return to the workforce due to the nature of the individual’s condition in the long term or temporary absences from work to attend medical appointments and other scheduled sessions in the short term. Typically loss of money related to work is higher for males due to their higher earnings profile than females.
Another aspect of out of pocket expenses for Australian Parkinson’s disease patients is the use of aids and modifications. Based on the disease stage and the type of aid used, costs may run from $30 to $ 3,499.
According to statistics, the out of pocket expenses faced by Parkinson’s disease patients can cost an individual up to $12,000 a year. Among these those in stage five PD may spend up to $2,590 for assistive aids every year while the monetary burden for an individual afflicted by Parkinson’s disease for 12 years can go up to about $144,000.
How to pay for your Parkinson’s disease medical expenses
As medical expenses are lifelong, the incurred out of pocket costs for patients and their families can be high. There are a few sources of Parkinson’s disease financial assistance. These include the government support programs through Centerlink. Depending on the person’s age, an Australian in need of medical treatment or care can access a pension allowance, disability pension or carer compensation. Documents, interviews and formal processes will need to take place in order to verify the need both financially and in terms of the person’s health and well-being.
Parkinsons Australia is a well-known Australian non-profit dedicated to assist patients and their families. Most formally they provide programs and services as well as clinical trials to help improve the research in finding a cure for Parkinson’s disease. Seeking financial assistance may be limited however can be useful if you require assistance with transportation cost and other associated costs.
PeoplePledge Australia is a fundraising website that has proven to be useful for many families with a loved one suffering from Parkinson’s disease. On this website, you can sign up to create a fundraiser for free and use the platform to share among friends, family and your local community in order to cover the medical expenses. Individuals can setup up ongoing fundraisers or establish a fundraiser each year in order to remove the burden of cost from the family.
1. Cost of a critical illness: http://www.newsmaker.com.au/news/18731/cost-of-a-critical-illness#.UzipuKKRmSo
2. Parkinson’s NSW 2011 Report: http://www.parkinsonsnsw.org.au/assets/attachments/documents/AE-Report_2011.pdf
3. About Parkinsons: http://shakeitup.org.au/understanding-parkinsons/about-parkinsons/