While sitting in the infusion clinic a few days ago receiving my first dose of Actemra (see photo), I began to wonder about the extra costs of having RA that aren’t covered by insurance or planned for in my budget. This thought came to mind as I pulled a parking ticket out of my pocket and wondered how much I was spending on parking per year. Then the thought expanded to all RA related costs that aren’t included in insurance coverage and I decided to make an accounting of these costs.
Parking - Parking charge for clinic, $6.00 per trip to clinic for doctor visits and infusions x 22 trips = $132
Mileage – Driving to clinic for doctor visits and infusions, 22 trips x 30 miles round trip = 660 miles/24 miles per gallon = 27.5 gallons x $3.50 per gallon = $96.25
Co-pays – I have a maximum out of pocket of $2,500 annually and this was fully met the past few years due to the costs of office visits to expensive specialists, imaging including MRIs, RA related surgeries, expensive medications, etc.
Office Visit Co-pays - For my insurance, each office visit is covered except for a $15 copay that I pay at the appointment. 10 visits x $15 = $150
Prescription Co-pays - Most of my prescriptions have a $5-$15 copay. It helps when I can get a 90 day supply but that doesn’t always work. 15 refills per year x $10 average = $150
Missed work – Fortunately I am salaried and can flex my schedule as needed. But the work still must get done. Many RA patients are hourly employees and missed work may mean missed pay.
Over the counter drugs – Tylenol, Prilosec, vitamins, etc. estimated $250 per year.
Medical Supplies/Assistive Devices - Bandages for post surgery, ice packs, crutches, canes, jar openers, etc. estimated $200
This is a grand total of $3,478.25 for the year that comes out of my own pocket. Granted, that does not compare to the total cost of treatment for the year that can run upwards of $40,000 depending on medications, imaging, and surgeries. But it’s still a lot of money that could be used for other things like a new car, a vacation, clothes for my kids, house repairs, savings, etc. People with chronic illnesses must find a way to live with these added expenses. Rheumatoid arthritis is costly in so many ways.
On a side note, it’s been 6 days since my first Actemra infusion and there have been no noticeable effects yet. My joints probably feel the worst they ever have, my fingers feel swollen and frozen most of the day, and energy levels are quite low. But I hold out hope as it could be several weeks before I notice an impact.