Chronic diseases suck.
The average person with psoriasis can expect to pay around $8,000 a year, including doctor’s visits and treatments. Depending on your chosen treatment, costs can range from around $80 to $1,300 a month.
That’s not including the over-the-counter costs: special shampoos, lotions, salves, and so on (and so on).
Together, psoriasis costs the U.S. healthcare system about $112 billion a year, according to some estimates.
If you don’t have health insurance, or worse, have it but can’t afford to use it because of high deductibles or infinite loopholes preventing affordable care, here are some ways to help keep the costs of treating your psoriasis down.
1. Control Your Triggers with Diet and Exercise
First and foremost, keeping flares to a minimum is the best way to stretch a buck when psoriasis is eating away at your pocketbook. Cheap food comes at a cost, and your autoimmune disorder is usually the first one to pay the price. You’re better off buying fresh produce and lean proteins than spending that same money at your pharmacist.
Since stress is a major trigger for a psoriatic flare, try meditation. Sitting in a quiet room listening to your brain unwind itself is free, but it pays dividends in the long run.
Going for a walk is free (at least for now). Every step you make is one further away from being obese, which is a major contributor to psoriasis outbreaks.
Regular exercise — combined with a diet low in complicated fats and sugars and high in whole grains and vegetables — is possibly the simplest and cheapest way to keep psoriasis away.
2. Really Rub It In
Make a tube of your medication last twice as long. All it requires is taking a few extra minutes to give your skin a shiatsu.
Creams, ointments, and other topical treatments work not by contact, but by penetration. You can maximize their effects not by adding more, but by spending a few extra minutes rubbing your medication into your problem spots.
3. Wrap It Up
If rubbing alone doesn’t work, trying wrapping your affected skin in plastic wrap after you’ve applied your topical treatment.
Note: This is a bad idea if you have psoriasis on your face, because breathing is important.
If your hands are a problem, you may want to consider applying topicals and sleeping with nonlatex medical gloves on. It keeps that pricy medicine from slipping away.
4. Make Your Treatments Last Longer
Most of us have the routine of applying medication right after a shower. Often this includes topical medications.
Mixing your medications with thicker perfume and dye-free moisturizers can help extend their life. Even simple petroleum jelly can turn creams into ointments, which makes them more effective.
5. Look for Reimbursements
Rarely does anything in life pay for itself, but often drug makers will have reimbursements to cover a patient’s out-of-pocket expenses for their branded treatments. These are especially important for people on biologic medications under patent protection.
These drugs are often more expensive and billed to your insurance at astronomical prices. While in the long run this practice makes healthcare more expensive, that’ll happen with or without you.
6. Go Generic
Medications aren’t like Air Jordans or Marc Jacobs handbags — no one cares if you’re rocking knock-offs.
Each time you see your dermatologist or rheumatologist, ask if the medications you’re being prescribed are available as generics.
7. Ask a Friend or Travel Abroad
Not all countries have such limited and expensive healthcare as the United States.
In countries like Mexico or Spain, you can simply walk into a pharmacy and buy topical ointments. If you know someone there, drop them a line and ask for a care package.
And if you’re looking to travel anyway, get what you need while you’re there. Depending on your medication, it may be cheaper to travel there each time you need a refill.