Americans with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis spend thousands on health care

Jan 30, 2013, 10:08 ET from National Psoriasis Foundation

Giving up on treatment and prohibitive costs are primary reasons for not seeking care

PORTLAND, Ore., Jan. 30, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Despite having insurance,people with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis spend thousands in out-of-pocket costs for health care, according to a study by University of California, Davis dermatologist Dr. April Armstrong using data from the National Psoriasis Foundation.

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The findings showed that approximately 91 percent of people with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis are covered by some type of private or public health insurance, yet the majority spent more than $2,500 per year in out-of-pocket costs for their disease. Nearly a quarter (22 percent) of psoriasis patients seek care from a primary care physician rather than a specialist who could fully assess their disease and prescribe the latest treatments. People with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis also cite giving up on treatment and prohibitive costs as their primary reasons for not seeking care.

Learn more about the study:  

Psoriasis is a chronic, genetic disease of the immune system that appears on the skin, causing it to crack, itch and bleed. It's the most common autoimmune disease in the country, affecting as many as 7.5 million Americans. Up to 30 percent of people with psoriasis develop psoriatic arthritis, which causes pain and swelling of the joints. If left untreated, psoriatic arthritis can cause irreversible joint damage.

Researchers analyzed eight years of National Psoriasis Foundation patient studies to determine the access-to-care issues and out-of-pocket costs facing people with psoriatic diseases. Of the more than 5,600 patients analyzed, 92 percent of them had seen at least one physician in two years. Among those seeking care, 22 percent saw a primary care doctor.

When asked why they did not see a specialist—a dermatologist or a rheumatologist—to treat their disease:

  • 28 percent said they had given up on treatment
  • 21 percent said it was too expensive
  • 11 percent said it was too much of a hassle

"Unfortunately, copayments for biologics and phototherapy, two commonly prescribed treatment methods for psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis, can be upwards of $600 per month," said Randy Beranek, National Psoriasis Foundation president and CEO. "We are working with state lawmakers and insurance companies to help lower these costs and remove other barriers that limit access to care."

Other key findings from the study revealed that people with access to insurance and those with severe psoriasis were significantly more likely to see a specialist for their disease. Women were 1.5 times more likely than men to seek care.

"Psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis are serious systemic diseases that are associated with heart disease, heart attack, diabetes, obesity and depression," Beranek said. "Studies show that treating psoriasis can actually reduce risk of some of these other health conditions. Therefore, we must ensure that everyone with psoriatic diseases has access to the treatments they need."

Read more about the study and learn more about the Psoriasis Foundation access to care initiatives:

About the National Psoriasis Foundation
National Psoriasis Foundation is the world's largest nonprofit organization serving people with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis. Our mission is to find a cure for psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis and to eliminate their devastating effects through research, advocacy and education. For more information, call the Psoriasis Foundation, headquartered in Portland, Ore., at 800.723.9166, or visit Follow the Psoriasis Foundation on Facebook and Twitter.

SOURCE National Psoriasis Foundation