New Report Examines Access, Affordability and Lifestyle Factors Affecting Rheumatic Disease Care

Rheumatic Diseases Generate $140 Billion in Medical Costs Each Year in the U.S.
Audio: 
Dr. Christopher Mecoli, Johns Hopkins in Baltimore, Maryland, and member, Marketing & Communications Committee, American College of Rheumatology

(Atlanta, GA, Wednesday, September 5, 2018) - Rheumatic diseases generate $140 billion in medical costs each year in the U.S., surpassing the annual medical costs of cancer care. 

The Rheumatic Disease Report Card is a first-of-its-kind report from the American College of Rheumatology and its Simple Tasks public awareness campaign seeks to answer the question, “How easy is it to live with rheumatic disease in my state?”

The report card assigns states letter grades according to their progress on 1) providing adequate access to rheumatology care, 2) ensuring rheumatic disease care is affordable, and 3) encouraging healthy lifestyle habits that ease the burden of rheumatic disease.

The report card’s release in September coincides with Rheumatic Disease Awareness Month and highlights the challenges that patients with rheumatic disease often face.

The majority of states received a “C” suggesting that there is a lot of work needed to improve the quality of life for Americans living with rheumatic disease.

Many of the states that received poor access grades had a high rate of residents without health insurance, a severe shortage of rheumatologists, and weak laws limiting insurer practices like step therapy.

More than half of all states received an “F” grade in affordability, because they have not enacted legislation that could help address cost challenges.

  • Rheumatic diseases are painful autoimmune and inflammatory diseases that cause the immune system to attack a person’s joints, muscles, bones, and organs.
  • There are over 100 types of rheumatic diseases. Rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis and lupus are some of the most commonly known, but others include gout, Sjögren’s syndrome, scleroderma and psoriatic arthritis.
  • Chances are, if you don’t have a rheumatic disease, you know somebody who does. More than 54 million American adults—one in four—have been diagnosed with a rheumatic disease.
  • A recent study suggested that the number of Americans living with a rheumatic disease may be as high as 91 million when taking into account reported symptoms of undiagnosed individuals.
  • Arthritis is not just a disease affecting the elderly. Hundreds of thousands of children live with arthritis and other rheumatic diseases. The CDC estimates that as many as 300,000 children have some type of juvenile arthritis.

You can see how your state stacks up by viewing the report card at SimpleTasks.org/ReportCard.

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