Need Government support & policy change on Insurance for Inflammatory Arthritis patients
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Background & Magnitude of the problem:
Inflammatory Arthritis is a highly debilitating inflammatory condition that doesn't take life of a patient, but takes life out of patient’s daily activity. Such unbearable pain (due to slow degradation of joints) and burden is infused by this condition, that some has applied for euthanasia. Example case in the link here http://www.dailyo.in/lifestyle/euthanasia-seema-sood-president-disease-bits-pilani-health-suicide-poverty-rheumatoid-arthritis-fortris/story/1/10303.html
Inflammatory arthritis is a group of autoimmune diseases causing inflammation of the joints, often resulting in marked functional disability and impaired social wellbeing. Inflammatory arthritis comprises of: Rheumatoid arthritis, Psoriatic arthritis and Ankylosing spondylitis. All the three disease together occurs approximately in 1.3% of population accounting to 5 million of Indian population. In contrast to the belief that it is a disease of elderly the disease occur among adults, aged 25 to 44 years, hence it’s social and economic impact is extensive. Reduced physical function, out-of-pocket expenditures, loss of working hours and reduced productivity adds to the economic burden of the disease.
Further this disorder gets worsens with lifestyle, hence silently it’s becoming a huge healthcare burden in urban India. Yet there is little awareness or support for the same. Hence people suffering from this disease need the same support as that of any other disorder like diabetes or cancer. Not only the patient, but the whole family is affected due to burden of medical care.
Nowadays, the disease control and remission is possible for many patients with early and aggressive treatment using disease modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs), now standard components of guideline-based care. In last decade, multiple medicines (known as monoclonal antibodies or mAbs) are available that helps in maintenance of the patients health by slowing down the inflammation and joint degradation. These are novel life-changing drugs, which are often both life-changing and costly. Treatment costs run into few lakh rupees per year.
In India, only 10% of the total population is covered under healthcare schemes. Furthermore, the diseases like inflammatory arthritis is not considered as ‘critical illness’, unlike multiple sclerosis, paralysis and cardiac illness. Even well-insured arthritis patients, receiving care from rheumatologists, experience limitations as these diseases are currently classified as pre-existing conditions and result in considerable financial impact. Considering the rapidly evolving treatment strategies for inflammatory arthritis, the disease once to be called as chronic disease has moved on to a disease where remission or total control of the disease is possible. To obtain these benefits there is a need for a change in policy and the need of the hour is to consider the disease as a critical illness. The policy should focus on the implementation of a comprehensive approach that considers the customized treatment, work disability, quality of life and premature mortality.
Inflammatory arthritis conditions are in the deletion list of insurance companies, and hence these patients are completely denied health insurance, and hence also denied the Right to Access to Healthcare. With this background, the petition is for the following:
- This is an appeal to IRDA and health ministry of Govt of India to include inflammatory arthritis like Rheumatoid arthritis, Psoriatic arthritis and Ankylosing spondylitis into the insurance list of all public and private insurers. Classify them as Critical Illness or Insurable Illness rather than as Chronic Illness or Pre-existing Illness- which with current advances in disease management is not correct. Currently all these are categorised as general Arthritis and Rheumatism, which is medically and scientifically incorrect.
- An appeal to government for making drug prices specially of the mAbs, affordable for treating these arthritic conditions. Role of mAbs is pivotal in managing these diseases.
If government doesn't do anything about the above, it would lead to huge increase in healthcare burden as huge population (especially younger age group) suffering from the above conditions ultimately get unemployed and bed ridden, when they could have been an active work force had there been a support system.
I appeal all to please support this petition
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