The hidden costs of even mild R.A.

January 15, 2010 at 11:11 am | Posted in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) | 6 Comments
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I’m part of the Norfolk Arthritis Register (NOAR) study, which is an epidemiological study around rheumatoid arthritis. They look into all sorts of things, physical, mental and social, that affect R.A. patients, from an epidemiological standpoint – i.e. they look at lots of us and then see what the statistics say. In spite of the old ‘lies, damn lies and statistics’ quote, they produce some very interesting results.

One of the bits of research they did, before I was involved, was around the hidden costs of R.A. and it’s something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. Even mild R.A. leads to an extraordinary amount of hidden costs, even in this country with our ‘free healthcare’. I’m trying to compile a list of those hidden costs for someone like me with mild R.A. – I’d be interested in any additions people might think of, so please comment if any come to mind! Later on, when I have the list as complete as I can make it, I’m going to try and price it. I think that might be quite frightening.

Here’s what I’ve got so far:

  • Over the counter medications such as paracetamol, stomach settlers etc. not prescribed by the doc
  • Time off work due to sickness
  • Time of work to attend hospital appointments (consultant, nurse, physio, OT etc.)
  • Travel costs to attend hospital, since I live in a rural area and hospitals are 30 miles for consultant/nurse and ten miles or so for OT/physio.
  • Aids such as jar openers, tin openers etc. (Some of these are free through OT services, some aren’t.) I have compression gloves from OT for instance, but they’re starting to get a bit baggy/stretchy after less than a week, so I might invest in some good quality ones!
  • An occasional one only, but cost of trips etc. cancelled due to a flare!

I’m sure there are more – will add them as I think of them or as people comment with suggestions! Some, like cost of transport because one can’t drive, I haven’t included because they haven’t actually happened to me so far!



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  1. Before I had a car, I used to spend much more than I wanted to on cabs because it hurt my hands too much to lug my groceries home or to hold on to them while I waited for a bus.

    I still sometimes spend more than I would like to on parking when I decide to drive to places that really are walking distance, as I’m too sore and tired.

  2. childcare for some of the appointments. different big tickets bis of clothing, because you can’t shrug on, tie on, do up, etc anymore. convenience food when you can’t cook your own

  3. Thanks for really breaking down the costs you have associated with rheumatoid arthritis. That really helps me to see how the disease can effect a person financially as well as physically. I didn’t realize that most of your mobility aids had to be bought instead of given to you through occupational therapy.

  4. Thanks Frankie – all excellent points. Hadn’t thought of childcare because I don’t have any kids!

  5. Hi Andrea, glad you found that post interesting. I find I get thebasic product from my OT or physio, and then if I find it useful to a point I then go and shell out on something that’s better quality: for instance the physio gave me a back-fastening neck brace with one velcro closer that comes open on its own. when I have neck and shoulder problems I can’t fasten it at the back! You can get double fastening, front-fastening neck braces. Also they don’t provide things like a TENS machine, which I find very useful, and I may invest in a wax bath at some point – I get 6 treatments on the NHS for that, and then that’s it.

  6. Thought of another one after Wren’s recent post about going on plaquinel. Eye tests! I have to pay for an eye test every year because I’m on plaquinel, and there’s an extra cost to have a retinal scan each time!

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