Hey everyone, I hope you had a great weekend. I think a lot about the state of healthcare today. Especially for those of us living with autoimmune conditions, we are left navigating the cost of healthcare. And of course, healthcare is really sick care. We can’t really wrap our heads around financial implications long term.
So today, I thought I’d clarify the autoimmune epidemic, the cost of healthcare (sick care) for autoimmune conditions and what it costs for us individually—both the hard costs and soft costs. Just for context, hard costs are the actual dollar amounts. Soft costs of healthcare are the intangible costs of being sick such as quality of life, time, opportunity cost, livelihood, etc.
According to the AARDA report, autoimmune disease is on the rise in the U.S. and around the world. There is also minimal understanding of it. It is fast becoming a public health crisis at levels comparable to heart disease and cancer. It affects more than 50 million Americans, and there is a severe lack of awareness among the general public and the medical community. There also is a lack of coordinated care and standardized diagnostic tests. The report according to the AARDA claims that the associated cost of autoimmune disease has become a significant portion of the rising cost of healthcare in the US. (1)
The National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) estimates that the cost of autoimmune treatments in the U.S. is greater than $100 billion annually. But this figure is likely much higher due to the report only considering seven autoimmune conditions. In actuality, there are over 100 autoimmune diseases.
It’s important to consider the direct and indirect costs of autoimmune diseases. The medical costs associated with disease management relate to the direct cost of healthcare. The costs associated due to the effect of the condition on the patient’s life are the indirect costs of healthcare.
Here’s the problem we face with autoimmune conditions:
•Symptoms overlap many specialties and can affect all body organs.
•Medical education provides minimal education about autoimmune disease.
•Specialists are generally uneducated of interrelationships among the different autoimmune diseases or treatment options outside their own specialty area.
•Initial symptoms are often unspecific until the disease becomes acute.
•Research is generally disease-specific and limited in scope.
It’s a major health problem because of a genetic element in individuals and families. The only thing offered to autoimmune conditions is understanding how to modulate the immune system.
Knowing the odds above, think about the number of visits to the hospital, doctors’ offices, medications, prescriptions, confusion, anxiety and stress this has caused in your life.
With the rising healthcare costs, many things have changed since the last two decades that I was diagnosed. Once the diagnosis was on my health record, I was not able to get a life insurance policy for my family.
The number of ER, Urgent Care and doctor visits cost me over $300,000 in the last two decades.
While the insurance coverage does help, the deductibles in the plans have been increasing every year with higher out-of-pocket maximums. This means more money out of pocket to cover my expenses, including routine doctor visits, lab testing and medications.
As a professional, missed work and opportunities due to my autoimmune conditions equates to over $500,000.
Finally, the soft costs should be considered. When I was first diagnosed, I felt broken and it changed the trajectory of my life. I have to say at first I lost lots of opportunity. Opportunities to pursue my career, dating, travels and the time spent in the hospital are times of my life that I can never get back. I can’t put a dollar amount on this. Also, the cost of my livelihood when I’m not able to spend time with my kids, spouse, family and friends because I’m sick is not usually talked about, but this is the most important.
With the introduction of “biologic” medications as drugs for Lupus about 8 years ago, the cost has since tripled. Knowing that my Rheumatologist recommended biologics as an intervention and that they got a significant grant to have patients like me to try the meds that are potentially poison for my body encouraged me to find a better way.
Reversing My Condition
When I was personally faced with a realization that the medical system is failing me, I sought out Traditional Chinese Medicine. I spent over $7,000 in treatments and herbals and got some results. But I knew that long term, I needed a way to live the solution. I couldn’t depend on someone to poke and prod me with the acupuncture needles. It was both cost and time prohibitive.
Because I’ve always known the importance of physical exercise on health, I knew I needed a way to get physically strong without causing inflammation to my joints. As an avid runner, I began to feel the wearing and tearing into my hips and knees. So, I sought to get professionally trained in Pilates and then Yoga.
Private instruction as well as the advanced certification in both Pilates and Yoga cost over $20,000. It gave me tools to get mentally, emotionally and physically strong. Not only that, the return on investment was made in my clinical practice. There, I was able to help autoimmune patients get back their health using the same tools I used.
It also gave me back my time and livelihood to spend quality time physically playing with my kids on the playgrounds, cooking, breastfeeding and much more.
Using Functional Medicine
Then, I found Functional Medicine. I knew using lifestyle to reverse my condition was key. Although I knew about nutrition and movement, I wanted a way to put everything together specific to autoimmunity.
The training and board certification for functional medicine through the Institute of Functional Medicine cost me well over $50,000. This included the cost of training, travel, missed work and time for studying.
I placed reversing my condition and whatever cost that takes as my priority. This doesn’t include the costs I’ve spent in seeing a functional medicine doctor. After over $5,000 in labs and visit costs with a functional doctor, I realized just how much they didn’t know.
All this to say, when you are stuck thinking about the cost, I want you to think of the hard costs of healthcare you’ve already spent as well as what you will continue to spend. This cost too is to keep you sick as well.
And if you think you can piece together something to help you to reverse your condition by adapting a new diet, taking supplements and doing the things that are suggested by the “experts” on the internet, let me ask you, how is that working out?
Because I tried that only to realize “tactics” can only carry me so far. It was smart “strategic” integration of ALL the solutions that I needed, not trying one at a time.
What I Learned
I learned our bodies are a whole being. They are constantly shifting, fine-tuning and adjusting to create health if we provide them with the inner environment to do so both physically (exercise), biochemically (nutrition for body and mind), mentally (being aware of the thoughts) and emotionally (understanding the impact of our feelings).
As we look forward, my goal is to help each and every one of you to take responsibility over your own health by committing to your own mind-body mastery toward health mastery, self-mastery, and to life mastery.
We must consider all the elements in our each lives that make us who we are. My needs and ambitions are different from yours. Yours are different from another who has autoimmunity. It’s when we understand and realize that we are all on our path to self-healing journey that the actual healing can begin.
But if you are on the fence and keep going back to the sick care system to help you feel better, they will always be ready and willing to handicap you by putting a band aid and providing you a pill for every ill you may present with.
Imagine a life full of energy, clarity and focus in knowing how you’re going to feel every single day, getting up happy and joyful knowing YOU have complete power in creating the life and health.
This is possible for you. But we are often stuck in a state of fear and anxiety, and we don’t know the steps forward.
Making Your Decision
Join me for a FREE 7 Day Alkaline Detox Challenge where we pull all tactics together strategically so that you can “experience” a glimpse of what your life would be like to live the solution and have the power to change the trajectory of your disease.
Sign up today and let’s do this together where I provide you with a clear and simple plan on what to eat, how to move, explore thinking, process emotions, and finally gain clarity over your health. I took the guess work out and created an environment where all you have to do is to show up for 7 days.
In this challenge, I will provide you with a clear plan, accountability and coaching. I promise to explain the why and the how so that you can reclaim the power over your health.
Ready to start feeling better once are for all? Sign up now!