5 Money-Saving Arthritis-Care Tips

When it comes to healthcare, the best overall way to save money is to stay as healthy as possible.

It is especially important to eat a balanced, healthful diet and get as much exercise as possible in order to maintain a healthy weight and stay strong and fit. That's because excess weight will only put more stress on your joints and lack of exercise will weaken the muscles, bones, and other tissues that support your joints.

The out-of-pocket costs of arthritis care can run sky high, but there are steps you can take that might help you take control of the cost of your own health care:

1. Talk to your healthcare providers

Ask your rheumatologist about lower-cost and generic drugs, the pros and cons of alternative medications, and the value of any dietary supplements you are thinking of taking. Your pharmacist might also have some ideas for how your doctor can prescribe medications in ways that will cost less. For instance, can you save money by buying higher dosage pills and cutting them in half or by buying one type or dosage of pill instead of two so you only have to come up with one copayment?

2. Check to see if you qualify for prescription assistance from pharmaceutical companies

Some companies have patient programs to provide free or low-cost medications for those who do not have drug coverage. A good place to start gathering information is the target="_blank">Partnership for Prescription Assistance.

3. Check to see if you qualify for equipment reimbursement

Before you buy, check with your insurance company to see if they pay for mobility equipment such as canes, walkers, or wheelchairs or at least contribute to some of the cost.

4. Join a clinical trial

Participating in government or university-based research can give you access to free treatments that run the gamut from tai chi exercise classes to experimental therapies. Medications used in clinical trials have been proven safe or effective in other studies but are still going through the approval process that will allow the manufacturer to sell them in the United States. To see if you are qualified to participate in a research program near you, check out the National Institutes of Health's listing of clinical trials. If you are considering a study, run the details by your doctor to make sure there is no medical reason why you can't participate.

5. Help yourself

Check out the Better Choices, Better Health arthritis workshops, a free online program sponsored by the Arthritis Foundation and the National Council on Aging. These online workshops/support groups enroll up to 25 people for each session, but you set your own schedule as to when you want to participate.

Nathan Wei, MD, FACP, FACR, reviewed this article.




Nathan Wei, MD, FACP, FACR
Arthritis Treatment Center
Frederick, MD />Partnership for Prescription Assistance

National Institutes of Health

Better Choices, Better Health Arthritis: Interactive Online Workshop