A dollar bill features a sad woman instead of a prior president.

Financial Burdens and Hep C

Where illness and our finances intersect is beyond the all-too-familiar discussion around the cost of hep C drug therapies. This is not to say that the cost of treatment has not been an important issue, as it has certainly impacted access to cures. Whether provided by public or private payers, the cost of treatment has been a hot topic.

My experiences with financial challenges

This is not the focus of my attention here, with there being other burdens that people face that are more urgent for many people. I know it was for me, as a person who had lived with symptoms for years before a diagnosis of hep C, and yes, it did affect my ability to work in an effective and productive way. This affected my self-worth and self-esteem, and of course, my finances as well.

For some people I know, the experience can be devastating. I was lucky to have family support and the support of community to help deal with the emotional toll. Empathy should never be underestimated in its value to provide help. Knowing we are not alone going a long way when you are facing stigma, whether self-induced or from an outside source.

The consequences of financial challenges

Although others have suffered greater financial challenges, I was not immune to the effects. It is foolish for me to make any false equivalence comparing my situation to a homeless person or any person affected more by the social determinants of health. However, not having access to regular funds for an extended period of time can be devastating in a multitude of ways, and it’s affect on our general health can manifest in ways we don’t always see easily. The effects can creep up on us over time, and one that comes to mind is anxiety. Lack of good nutrition or access to necessary medications affect our health and well-being, and if we must choose between food and medicine, unfortunately, medicine often loses in the priority battle; understandably, but potentially dangerous. You may have read or heard recently about diabetics rationing their insulin because of the high cost, and sometimes this can end in catastrophe. The same is true for medications for mental wellness, and the connection between emotional and physical health are inextricable.

Getting help

Solutions are not always evident, but there may be ways you can mitigate the seriousness of the situation. There are programs that can help, and they may not be sufficient for your needs or available where you live, but without looking or reaching out, you may never know. The financial hardship we can face when dealing with an illness like hep C adds to the overall burden we carry. Fortunately, now we have shorter treatment durations with fewer and less difficult side effects that can enable fewer interruptions for those who are employed.

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