Do you have rheumatoid arthritis?

According to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, about 1.5 million Americans do. If you are one of the many Americans that have rheumatoid arthritis, there are many Medicare Health Plan options to ensure you pass through underwriting and provide coverage assistance for certain treatments, medications, and much more.

Rheumatoid arthritis, also known as RA, is the most common type of autoimmune arthritis. The chronic inflammatory disorder can damage a variety of various body systems such as the skin, eyes, lungs, heart and blood. It is triggered by a faulty immune system and affects the small joints of the hand and the wrist, including the middle joints of the fingers and knuckles. Luckily, for most who suffer from RA, early treatment can control the joint pain and swelling, and lessen the joint damage.

While there is no cure for rheumatoid arthritis, there are various treatment options available for those who suffer from the disorder. More than likely, when you visit your health care provider for treatment, they will recommend a combination of various treatment options to help ease the pain and provide relief. The treatment will depend on how long you have been suffering from RA, how severe your symptoms are, and the amount of joint damage you have, along with how much of your mobility is affected.

Prescription drug therapy helps reduce inflammation and can even try and slow the course of the disease. Some of these medications include the following:

  • Disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs). These are known to be the first line of treatment for people who have rheumatoid arthritis. They not only help provide arthritis pain relief but also slow the progression of the disease, which prevents permanent damage.
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). These are medications such as ibuprofen and naproxen sodium that are available over the counter for pain relief. Stronger NSAIDs may also be used to reduce swelling and inflammation, but these must be prescribed by a doctor or health care provider. Prescription drugs, however, can also have dangerous side effects including but not limited to liver damage, lung infections, and suppression of bone marrow.
  • Oral steroids such as prednisone can help slow joint damage while also relieving pain and reducing inflammation.

If your health care provider or doctor decides that prescription drug therapy is not for you, they may also refer you to a physical therapist or occupational therapy. These exercises taught in physical therapy help maintain joint flexibility and keep your range of motion. When you see the physical therapist, they may also recommend mobility accessories such as braces, canes or walkers. These accessories help protect the joints while they are tender or swollen.

Surgery can also be a resort when needing relief from rheumatoid arthritis. These can vary from the removal of the inflamed lining, repair of the tendons, fusion to stable and realign, and total joint replacement.

Original Medicare Part A & Part B covers the necessary treatment for rheumatoid arthritis, but they can charge you any deductibles, copayments and coinsurance amounts. If you need surgery, Original Part A will cover the treatment you receive in an inpatient setting, including hospitalization, surgery, rehabilitation, and if needed, skilled nursing care. Original Part B will take care of the medically necessary services such as doctor visits and medically necessary equipment. Original Part B also covers medically necessary physical and occupational therapy from most outpatient providers. Original Medicare does not cover prescription drugs you take at home, but you may be eligible to enroll in a Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Plan.

At Medicare Pathways, we can help review your current plan and if necessary, enroll you into a more comprehensive plan to meet your medical and financial needs. If you are struggling with understanding if your health plan pays for all of the necessary medications and treatment for rheumatoid arthritis, it is time to give us a call! We are always happy to help provide information and help you find a plan that best suits your condition. Give us a call at 866-466-9118. By contacting that number, you will be connected with a licensed insurance agent.