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Patients With Rheumatic Disease Often Have Trouble Accessing Care

TUESDAY, Sept. 17, 2019 -- Americans with rheumatic disease struggle to access affordable specialty care, according to a national patient survey released by the American College of Rheumatology in conjunction with Rheumatic Disease Awareness Month.

The online 2019 Rheumatic Disease Patient Survey questioned 1,517 U.S. adults with a rheumatic disease (June 28 to 29, 2019) to understand the unique access and affordability challenges faced by rheumatology patients. The survey asked participants about their ability to access rheumatology care, afford their medications and treatments, and perform daily tasks.

The survey found that nearly two-thirds of participants (63.7 percent) had to wait >30 days after a referral before getting an initial appointment with a rheumatologist. Nearly half (46.5 percent) of participants receiving treatment for a rheumatic disease reported that they were required to undergo insurer step therapy in the past year. More than half of respondents (57.1 percent) receiving treatment for a rheumatic disease said they had difficulty affording their medication or treatment in the past year, with one in four reporting annual out-of-pocket spending of >$1,000. Furthermore, nearly two-thirds of patients (63.8 percent) said that rheumatic disease limited their ability to perform daily simple tasks.

"The survey makes clear that Americans with rheumatic disease -- irrespective of gender, age, or income -- are struggling to access affordable care to improve their quality of life," the authors write.

2019 Rheumatic Disease Patient Survey

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Posted: September 2019

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