People with lung disease can experience years of treatment, which means that if you or someone you love has been diagnosed with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), then you may need to look for financial help for COPD patients. However, since there are several conditions that fall under the COPD umbrella, it’s not always easy to find organizations or resources for your particular circumstances or diagnosis. Fortunately, we are here to help you navigate through it all.
We will discuss some of the most common conditions that qualify as COPD, how much financial help you can get from Medicare or Medicaid, as well as the best organizations and resources that provide financial help for COPD patients.
What qualifies as COPD?
Generally speaking, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) refers to several different conditions that cause persistent blockage or restrictions that make it difficult to breathe. Though COPD has often been associated with smoking, that is not always the case. Genetics, air pollutants, infections of the lung, and even poor indoor air quality can all lead to COPD. Consequently, millions of Americans suffer from COPD, though many may be unaware of it.
The only way to know for certain if you have COPD is to undergo a spirometry test. This test measures how much air you can draw in and out of your lungs. It also measures the speed and ease of airflow when breathing. If you have any kind of breathing trouble, persistent cough, or shortness of breath your doctor will likely recommend a spirometry test to determine if you have COPD. The test is fast and can help your doctor make a diagnosis in a matter of minutes. Nonetheless, millions of Americans continue to suffer from the condition without getting a diagnosis or proper treatment.
Technically, there are only two major conditions that are considered to be a form of COPD: chronic bronchitis and emphysema. You could suffer from either condition if you show some or all of the following symptoms:
- Regular coughing or noisy breathing (wheezing)
- Phlegm, mucus, or sputum production that causes blockages in the throat or lungs
- Shortness of breath when at rest (not doing strenuous physical activities)
- Difficulty taking deep breaths
It is important to note, however, that even if you have these symptoms you may not have COPD. This is why it is so important to get a spirometry test. The test will confirm your condition and will allow your doctor to prescribe the best treatment for you. Moreover, you will only be able to seek out financial help for COPD patients with some organizations if you have a positive diagnosis from your physician.
Does COPD always require treatment?
Unfortunately, there is no cure for COPD. However, this does not necessarily mean that you will need expensive or invasive treatments. In many cases, people live with COPD without any treatment.
That said, if you have a moderate to severe case of COPD, you will almost certainly need to seek out treatment. Without the right medications, treatments, and equipment (like oxygen tanks), you could be putting your life at risk. Therefore, while COPD does not always require treatment, you should always seek out the advice of a medical professional.
Does Medicare provide financial help for COPD patients?
Because a large number of people who suffer from COPD are over the age of 65, many Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries seek out financial help for COPD.
Even if you have yet to have an official diagnosis, you can still get COPD coverage under Medicare or Medicaid. Your initial visit to your doctor to get a diagnosis will be covered by Part B (80%). If your doctor determines that you do have COPD and require treatment, Part B will also cover 80% of the cost of a pulmonary rehabilitation program. This kind of program can help ease symptoms and generally provide a higher quality of life for COPD patients, particularly in severe cases.
Your doctor may also prescribe medication to help reduce phlegm or mucus production. In this case, you will likely require a Part D or Medicare Advantage plan with Part D coverage to get help paying for your medications. If medications are prescribed as part of a pulmonary rehabilitation program, your Part B plan may still cover a portion of the costs.
Organizations that provide COPD help
Even if you don’t qualify for Medicare, Medicaid, or a comprehensive healthcare program, you can still get financial help for COPD. One of the best resources for finding help is the American Lung Association. For more direct help, there are various organizations and programs to help you pay for the treatment you need:
- BenefitsCheckUp – This resource specifically helps senior citizens find financial assistance programs, community health centers, and healthcare options for COPD.
- FundFinder – This database provides access to thousands of charitable organizations based on your specific needs (including COPD patients).
- SingleCare – This resource helps provide discounts on COPD medications.
- NeedyMeds – Like SingleCare, this resource helps provide discounts on COPD medications.
- Co-Pay Relief – As the name implies, Co-Pay Relief helps cover some of the costs of doctors visits, though assistance is not just limited to doctor co-pays.
- COPD Foundation – This charitable foundation was specifically founded to provide emotional and financial help for COPD patients.
- CHEST Foundation – The CHEST Foundation is dedicated to providing information, medical grants, and additional help for people with breathing problems, including COPD.
- Hearst Foundation – This resource provides medical grants, financial assistance, and education resources for COPD patients.
The Bottom Line
While there is currently no cure for COPD, there are many treatment options to help cope with the condition. Private or public insurance (like Medicare or Medicaid) is the best way to reduce your COPD costs, but there are also plenty of charitable organizations and programs at your disposal.