As medical technology continues to evolve and new treatments are developed, manufacturers are now peddling ultra-expensive gene therapies that may not be covered by insurance. As America continues to grapple with its healthcare system, it begs the question–how will we pay for these revolutionary yet pricey therapies?
1. The Advent of Ultra-Costly Gene Therapies
The introduction of ultra-costly gene therapies has ushered in a new era of medicine and biotechnology. These groundbreaking treatments have the potential to cure or effectively treat a range of life-altering genetic diseases. The power of gene therapy comes from its ability to use a single treatment to reach far beyond what traditional therapies could ever hope to achieve.
One of the most notable advantages of these therapies is their potential to provide permanent solutions to inherited conditions. By using gene therapy to directly target the mutated genes that cause the disease, these treatments can work to correct the genetic mutation and potentially eliminate its effects. Additionally, gene therapies can offer the potential for improved quality of life and a longer lifespan for those afflicted by certain genetic illnesses.
The downside to gene therapies is their unthinkably prohibitive cost. Even with prices expected to come down as technology improves, most treatments still come with a hefty price tag. Despite this, gene therapy treatments offer a wide range of benefits that far outweigh the costs.
2. The Financial Challenges of Treating Rare Genetic Disorders
Treating rare genetic disorders has become the specialty of many medical teams, and unfortunately, the financial challenges associated with it can be considerable. In order for a patient to receive treatment, healthcare often needs to cover research done by rare disease experts and cover the costs of specialized medications and treatments.
These treatments or therapies can come at a high cost, with specialized drugs running into tens of thousands of dollars per year. In developing countries, where public support can be limited, the burden of paying for healthcare can largely fall on the family and patient. Furthermore, financing has to be adapted to suit the complexity of a genetic disorder–divided into patient care, rare disease research, and the search for new treatments and cures.
- Patient Care: Insurance plans can cover the costs of visits to the consulting doctor, scans, procedures, treatments, and medications.
- Research: Funding is required to improve diagnosis and treatments, as well as to search for cures.
- Innovations: This covers the costs associated with identifying and testing new treatments and drugs, and bringing them to the market.
The challenges of treating rare genetic disorders bring to light the importance of policy decisions when it comes to public funding and support for both patients and medical research in healthcare.
3. Prospects for Patients Using Gene Therapies in America
Gene therapies hold a great deal of potential for treating and managing many diseases. Currently, there are over 600 clinical trials underway in the United States for gene therapies, indicating a bright future for the field. Here are some highlights for patients to consider:
- The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is expanding their review and approval process for gene therapies, making it easier for treatments to come onto the market.
- The United States leads the world in research and development of gene therapy treatments, with more groundbreaking work being conducted here than anywhere else.
- More and more insurance companies are beginning to cover gene therapy treatments, meaning that patients will be able to access them more easily.
The cost of gene therapies is a major factor to consider, however. The cost of treatments are currently very high and can easily reach several hundred thousand dollars. And since gene therapies are a new medical field, there is no precedent for what kind of coverage and reimbursement patients may receive from insurance companies. The research on gene therapies, reception of gene therapies by medical experts, and increasing affordability of treatments holds a lot of potential for a brighter future and greater access to treatments for patients.
4. Finding New Ways to Fund Expensive Genetic Treatments
Genetic treatments are often considered too expensive to fund through traditional means, but that doesn’t mean that patients are without options. Here we look at a few unique ways to find the funds for a much-needed treatment:
- Look for grants or scholarships specifically for genetic treatments that are often provided by non-profits.
- Crowdfunding is becoming an increasingly popular option for people looking for support for a specific cause. There are now a number of crowdfunding sites dedicated to helping people raise money for medical treatments.
- Look into government programs or your state/country’s benefits system to see if you qualify for any support.
- Research alternative therapies that may be covered by insurance.
- Look to see if your genetic therapy is eligible for payment plans, allowing you to spread the cost of treatment over a longer period.
Advocating for Change
While financial support can be essential, many believe that more needs to be done to make genetic treatments more readily accessible for everyone. As a starting point, you may want to get together with other people in your community who have a personal experience with genetic treatments to advocate for change.
Gene therapies are revolutionizing medicine and providing hope to millions of people suffering from disease, but they come with a hefty price that is creating an immense financial burden on countries like the US. US citizens may be forced to bear a significant chunk of the cost of these treatments, and America’s ability to make them widely available will be challenged if these financial obstacles go unsolved. Exorbitant prices have a way of finding a way to be paid, and America seems to have no escape from that path.