Consider these sobering facts from the National Institute of Health (NIH):
- Pain affects more Americans than all types of diabetes, heart disease, and cancer combined.
- Americans seek out professional medical help for pain more than they seek out medical help for any other illnesses or conditions. A good deal of that pain qualifies as chronic pain.
- More Americans receive long-term disability for chronic pain than any other type of sickness or condition.
Pain also hurts our finances.
U.S. Chronic Pain Costs
Chronic pain costs do a number on our country’s collective wallet. A Science Daily report from September 11, 2012, says the following about U.S. chronic pain costs:
Health economists from Johns Hopkins University writing in The Journal of Pain reported the annual cost of chronic pain is as high as $635 billion a year, which is more than the yearly costs for cancer, heart disease, and diabetes.
Fibromyalgia falls under the classification of chronic pain so contributes to these expenses. About 5 million people in the U.S. suffer from fibromyalgia yet receive little in terms of financial assistance, not even on a fundraising level. No official test for diagnosis exists and a lot of people in the medical industry, as well as the general population, refuse to believe that Fibromyalgia exists.
That’s an expensive myth.
The Fibromyalgia Fees
In 2007, researchers discovered that 34% of Fibromyalgia patients with insurance spent $100-$1000 per month over their insurance coverage for treatment from a healthcare professional. Studies place the yearly fibromyalgia costs between $12-14 BILLION annually. This cost also includes the 1-2% decrease in productivity due to fibromyalgia.
Additionally, Healthrising.org says
People with severe FM (65% in one study) averaged over $10,000 a year in direct medical costs.
A Breakdown of the “Myth”
The NIH shows that the majority of direct medical costs incurred by fibromyalgia patients consists of
- office and emergency room visits
- procedures and tests
Fibromyalgia sometimes interferes with the day-to-day routines in life, including work and school. The pain and fatigue make holding a job or studying difficult and sometimes impossible, which in turn puts fibromyalgia patients at a disadvantage with both cash flow and insurance.
Furthermore, fibromyalgia insurance coverage is practically nonexistant.
All of the financial stress compounds fibromyalia symptoms as well as its common comorbidities.
Many fibromyalgia patients have turned to alternative methods to treat their symptoms.
Alternative methods might save money if they include treatments like self-meditations, a healthy diet, exercise or yoga, reasonably priced massages, or investing in a massage chair to be used at home. For instance, doing yoga at home versus doing a class at a community center versus a fancy yoga studio span a spectrum of prices.
Pot is another way people treat their fibromyalgia symptoms. While FibroDaily does not endorse the use of pot, we do report on it because it’s a major component of the fibromyalgia community.
And honestly, pot might wind up being more expensive than intended if facing jail time because it’s illegal to use it where you live. All sorts of costs and dangers make this a risky route so make sure to follow the medical marijuana laws in your area.
What can be done about the expense of fibromyalgia remains to be seen, but one thing is for sure: the U.S. pays a lot for something it (mostly) doesn’t believe in.
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