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Dealing with RA in Grad School

  • By Madhura Duttagupta

    Hello,
    I’m a final year student finishing my master’s degree in India. I was diagnosed with RA in Dec 2014. It was very difficult in the beginning especially because my diagnosis coincided with a semester of advanced Immunology, so I knew too well what was going on inside me. While my exhaustive forays into investigating RA online, I can across this page and have been an avid follower since then.
    At present I’m on Methotrexate and doing quite okay. I am considering a grad school offer from US, and naturally I have some apprehensions about managing my RA in a far off land. But the only things I know about the healthcare system in US are from TV shows and Robin Cook thrillers. So I’d appreciate any tips/suggestions/advice you might have (about insurance, doctors and other associated issues), which might make it easy for me to take a decision of whether to move or not.
    Thanks,
    Madhura

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  • By Mariah Z. Leach Moderator

    Hi Madhura ~

    I was actually diagnosed with RA myself right in the middle of law/graduate school – so I can certainly understand where you are coming from. There are certainly some issues with the U.S. healthcare system, but in general you should be able to obtain access to adequate treatment for your RA – particularly if you are doing well on methotrexate alone. If at some time in the future you need to move on to a biologic medication, in some cases it can unfortunately be a bit difficult to get adequate insurance coverage for these expensive treatments. Luckily, most biologic medications offer co-pay assistance programs to help patients cover the costs (that’s how I afford mine!)

    Another thing to keep in mind is that RA can be considered a legal disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act. This means that your graduate school may be required to provide you with accommodations to make it easier for you to be a student despite your condition. For example, when I was in law school I was given extra time on my exams due to the physical difficulty of typing with painful hands for long periods of time. I think it is good for you to know that these types of accommodations exist, should you ever need them.

    I wish you the best of luck with your decision! Please do let us know if you have any additional questions.

    ~Mariah~ (Site Moderator)

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