Insurance and RA

Insurance will cover RA treatment – up to a point. If you have insurance, your general arthritis care should be covered, but you’ll still have to make co-payments for doctor visits, procedures and prescriptions.

Some treatments may be covered partially or not at all. For example, you may have trouble getting approval for cutting-edge biologic medicines, which are quite expensive. Even if they are covered, insurance companies frequently put them in the highest formulary category – tier 4 – which means restricted access and higher-than-usual copays.

If you’re denied coverage for a biologic but you’ve been under a doctor’s care for a while and other treatments have proved ineffective, you may be able to appeal. Investigate your insurance company’s appeals process and ask your doctor to write a letter on your behalf. Check your state insurance commissioner’s office for more tips on working with insurance companies.

Once you’re diagnosed with arthritis, you have a “pre-existing condition,” in insurance industry terms, and are likely to have difficulty getting a new individual insurance policy. If you switch jobs, ask about pre-existing condition waiting periods. If you lose employer coverage due to resignation, divorce or the company closing, be sure to maintain continuity of coverage through COBRA, even if the premiums are expensive. 

Having RA Doesn’t Mean Losing Your Job

Depending on your job and the severity of your symptoms, you might want to make some changes, whether it’s working more flexible hours or using ergonomic office equipment. Those changes are known as accommodations, and according to the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, as long as you work for a company with more than 15 people, your employer is required to work with you to make them – within reason.

Here are some coping techniques:
• Create an efficient work environment; arrange your responsibilities and your workspace to limit the amount of lifting, reaching, carrying, holding or walking necessary.
• Vary activities periodically to avoid sitting in one position or doing too much repetitive activity for too long.
• Set priorities and pace yourself. List the tasks you must do in order of importance, and tackle the most critical ones while you feel strongest and most energetic.
• Stick to a schedule and get enough rest to carry you through the next day.

Taking Care of Your Body is Critical

When you have RA, it’s important to keep extra strain off your stressed joints, exercise and eat a balanced diet to promote overall health.

Keep your back straight and your shoulders back; use simple assistive devices such as a thick pen that’s easy to write with or jar openers. Rethink your approach to daily activities and find ways to accomplish tasks in less taxing ways.

Keep your weight under control; those extra pounds put added stress on joints. And keep moving. Moderate physical activity on a regular basis helps decrease fatigue, strengthen muscles and bones and improve flexibility and stamina – along with your sense of well-being.