Located on the Southside near the Brandermill business park, close to 70 dedicated staff at a national non-profit organization called Patient Services, Inc. (PSI), work tirelessly to help individuals and families battling a chronic illness. It is likely that you would not be familiar with PSI unless you or a family member have struggled to afford treatment for an expensive chronic illness. Since 1989, PSI has helped chronically ill patients with unaffordable medical expenses.
For individuals and families living with cancer, a bleeding disorder, respiratory disorder or autoimmune disorder, affording treatment can be one of their biggest obstacles. Expensive health insurance premiums and copayments often prevent a person from accessing life-saving treatment. ‘How expensive?’ you might ask. Picture this! In addition to paying for your mortgage, utility bill, car payment, gas, groceries, and other common bills, could you also afford to pay a monthly prescription totaling over $1,200? Based on the chart below, for a person who makes close to $57,000 a year ($4,750/month), 26 percent of their income goes towards their life-saving prescription. This added expense quickly and steadily results in unwavering debt.
Choosing between paying for one’s life-saving drug or feeding and housing your family should not be a decision that anyone must make. People do not choose to become sick, it is out of their control. PSI exists to help chronically ill patients afford treatment through health insurance premium and copayment assistance. Through services provided by PSI, individuals and families can maintain quality of life without worry of becoming bankrupt.
Until recently, PSI has never had challenges helping those in need. For the first time in almost 30 years, charities like PSI are being blamed for the high cost of drugs used to treat a chronic illness and are also being turned away by insurance companies. Charities like PSI do not diagnose patients, prescribe drugs, or control how a person chooses to be insured. Services provided solely help a person afford their health insurance premium or copayment. If a chronically ill patient cannot afford their health insurance premium payment, they will not be able to afford treatment (i.e. their prescribed drug). If deemed eligible for financial assistance during PSI’s application process, PSI will send premium payments directly to the patient’s insurance company on their behalf. Since this payment is not made directly by the patient (via a personal check, debit card, auto withdraw, etc.), the insurance companies feel the need to decline payments from charities. Why? The insurance industry supports a Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) rule* allowing health insurance companies to refuse premium and copayment assistance provided by charities on behalf of vulnerable and sick Americans. This cannot be allowed to happen; lives are at risk.
If you or a family member were diagnosed with a chronic illness, would you find comfort knowing that you could turn to a charity like PSI in a time of financial need? If your answer is yes, please consider contacting your Representative’s office at 1-202-224-3121 to help preserve the services provided by charities. Tell them to reverse the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services decision that excludes charities from giving premium and copayment assistance to patients.
As your local non-profit patient assistance program, PSI is here to lend a helping hand when it’s most needed. To learn more about Patient Services, Inc. visit www.patientservicesinc.org.
*Interim final rule – US Government Publishing Office. (2014, March 19). Retrieved from gpo.gov: https://static1.squarespace.com/static/56cb53cb62cd94fc4bc04853/t/57193021f850828c394d0877/1461268513683/2014-06031.pdf