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Grateful with Rheumatoid Arthritis

I am grateful for many things related to health, in general, and rheumatoid arthritis (RA/RD) in particular.

My gratitude list, despite RA

I try to regularly take time to think about the many things for which I am grateful. Here is my current list of health-related items for which I am thankful.

1. My support system

Sheryl went all out this year (as she does every year) to support my RA/RD journey. I could not ask for a better support person or, as I think of her, my corner woman. I suppose she could also be called my cut woman. Sheryl is there for me every step along this long, winding road. She has been from the beginning, but I value her efforts more each year. She attends nearly 100% of my doctor visits, helps me work with medications, and keeps me moving, even when I have decided to throw in the towel for the day, week, month, etc.

2. New insulin pricing for Medicare recipients

According to the Arthritis Foundation, “almost half of all adults with diabetes—47%—also have arthritis, and people with arthritis have a 61% higher risk of developing diabetes than those without this joint disease.”1

This year, nothing was more profound in the world of diabetes than Congress passing and the President signing The Inflation Reduction Act of 2022. This act specifies that the price of insulin for those who use Medicare will be no more than $35 per month starting in January 2023 for those who use insulin in syringes and a similar amount for pump users starting July 1, 2023. That is an astonishing number, and it means that what happens in the world of diabetes directly impacts the arthritis community.

In subsequent rulings, the Administrator of Medicare has notified providers that Medicare will support switching to the maximum out-of-pocket of $35.00 as soon as possible. So many people who use insulin are already seeing the price of this life-saving medication drop. For comparison purposes, people using Medicare commonly paid $100 to $400 per month for insulin. This is welcomed news across almost all health issues. As someone who relies on Medicare for drug coverage and has type 1 diabetes, it is a substantial improvement.

3. The Inflation Reduction Act

According to the Center for Medicare Services, the inflation reduction act will, over time, provide much-needed changes to how Medicare will pay for medication. Among several positive changes is the implementation of “a yearly cap ($2,000 in 2025) on out-of-pocket prescription drug costs in Medicare.” 2

Yes, I know this is a future-looking benefit that has not yet been implemented, but when it is implemented (think positive here), it will impact the lives of almost every Medicare beneficiary with a Part D drug benefit. The yearly cap (which is indexed) drops from $7,400 in 2023 to $2,000 in 2025.2 That is an automatic expense reduction of around $5,000 for people who use biologic medications and have Medicare as their insurance for medications.

4. The Arrival of Biosimilars in 2023

I don't know if you have heard of biosimilar medications, but if you use Humira or other injectable drugs in the future, you will likely encounter doctors, providers, payers, and patients discussing biosimilars. These medications are not generic since biologic medicines are made from living organisms, so no two batches are precisely the same. However, biosimilars should do what generics have done for more common medications, namely provide better access that is less expensive over time. This has already been the experience in Europe, where biosimilars have taken hold.

5. This Amazing Community

No one should have to face the challenges of RA/RD alone. This community means that I, and hundreds of others, are never alone on this journey, which can be so isolating at times. I am grateful every day for this caring and compassionate community. I am thrilled that it is here for those we have yet to meet, our caregivers, and for each other. Together, we are better, even though we share a wicked, unpredictable tie that binds us.

What are you grateful for? Can you be grateful about or with (not for, no one is grateful for it) rheumatoid arthritis?

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