Illness can strike anyone at any time. Even a well-prepared person can feel lost and confused when trying to navigate the US healthcare system. For those unable to find their way, there is assistance available from local community action agencies and patient advocates.  The resources available to each community can differ, however the Patient Advocate Foundation (PAF) is a national non-profit organization that offers patient services with a mission to “safeguard patients through effective mediation, assuring access to care, maintenance of employment and preservation of financial stability.” Founded in 1996, PAF’s primary purpose has been to provide direct services to patients, providers, family members and caregivers of those dealing with chronic, life-threatening, or debilitating conditions.  There is no charge for their services as they assist as “active liaisons” working on

behalf of the patient. Primarily phone-based interactions are provided by professional case managers provide real-time support for today’s healthcare challenges.  Focusing on the areas of insurance barriers, employment preservation, financial stability and medical debt, PAF offers direct appeals assistance, reimbursement navigation, referrals to patient support programs—and many other services. PAF operates with more than 200 compassionate professionals offering secure, personalized, expert one-on-one assistance to patients around the country and has closed more than 780,000 cases since their inception.   PAF strives to ensure that a patient’s focus can be survivorship while their case managers assist with the potentially overwhelming hurdles encountered during their healthcare journey.  Case management services can be reached toll-free at 1-800-532-5274 or by visiting www.patientadvocate.org/gethelp.

Measles was declared eliminated from the United States in 2000. However, measles can still infect people when brought in from foreign visitors or unvaccinated Americans while traveling abroad. The recent outbreak at a popular vacation spot in southern California can have far-reaching effects, though these effects are easily countered with the proper medical precautions.   Measles is a virus that presents with high fever, cough, runny nose, and red/watery eyes. Two to three days after initial symptoms, tiny white spots may appear inside the mouth followed by a rash covering the face, neck, body, arms, legs, and feet appearing one to three days later.  When the rash develops, a person’s fever may spike to more than 104°F. The fever and rash subside after a few days.

On top of the typical presentations, there are a number of complications that can arise. Ear infections can occur in children with measles and can result in permanent hearing loss. Children are also susceptible to pneumonia and, in rare occasions, encephalitis—a swelling of the brain that can lead to convulsions or leave a child deaf or mentally disabled. For every 1000 children who contract measles, on average one or two die from it. Pregnant women with measles can give birth prematurely or have a baby with low-birth-weight. Measles is also highly infectious, spreading to up to 90% of people who are not immune close to an infected person. These kinds of health risks can make it easy for seemingly drastic measures to be taken,…

January is National Cervical Health Awareness Month. With all women being at risk for cervical cancer, it’s important to be mindful of the health risks, symptoms, and resources available to those in need. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) estimates 12,000 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer each year, and about 4000 women die from it annually.   The main cause of cervical cancer is human papillomavirus (HPV), a common virus that can be passed between people during sex. HPV is so common that most people will have it at some point during their lives without ever developing symptoms. About 90% of cases are cleared naturally by the immune system within two years; however, there is no way of knowing which individuals will go on

to develop health problems. Some strains of HPV can cause warts around genitals or in one’s throat, while others can cause normal cells in the body to turn abnormal—possibly leading to cancer over time. Other factors that can increase your risk for cervical cancer are smoking, having HIV, using birth control pills for an extended time (five or more years), or giving birth to three or more children.   The most important thing one can do to prevent cervical cancer is to have regular screening tests starting at age 21. Regular Pap tests performed by a doctor are the main defense against cervical cancer. There are vaccines for HPV that can greatly decrease the chances of contracting the potentially malignant virus available to pre-teens and…

We’re wrapping up 2014 here at NeedyMeds, and it’s been a big year for us. We have kept true to our original mission to provide information on programs that help people who can’t afford medications and healthcare costs, and have expanded in the interest of offering more direct assistance to those in need.   The year started with a redesign of our website. Later that January, we launched a unique crowdfunding platform called HEALfundr. Using HEALfundr, people can raise funds for verified medical expenses that will be paid directly with the crowd-raised funds. HEALfundr is the only crowdfunding platform to verify campaigns and pay bills directly, giving confidence to donors that they will not be victimized by fraud and relieving the stress of handling incoming and

outgoing funds for those in need.   This past May we released a new web-based tutorial for those looking to learn how to find help for patients facing problems affording their medicine or other healthcare costs called Patient Assistance Resource Education (PARE). PARE is ideal for patient advocates and healthcare workers looking to utilize resources like NeedyMeds to the benefit of their patients.   In August, NeedyMeds launched the first-of-its-kind Generic Assistance Program (GAP) in collaboration with Rx Outreach, the largest non-profit pharmacy in the country. GAP is designed to help those unable to afford certain expensive generic medications by providing them at no cost for one year to those who qualify. With initial funding coming from NeedyMeds and Rx Outreach, GAP is also…

As declared by the UN, today was International Day of Persons with Disabilities. Started in 1992, the observance day aims to promote understanding of disability issues and mobilize support for the dignity, rights, and well-being of those with disabilities. With one billion people worldwide experiencing some sort of disability, the day can have an important impact on many who experience difficulties every day. In honor with the international observance, we at NeedyMeds want to share the resources available for people with disabilities in the United States. The UN theme for 2014 is “Sustainable Development: The Promise of Technology.” In a previous blog post, we covered state grants that are available to those in need of assistive technology. We also have information on over 20

national organizations offering financial assistance to those requiring assistive technology, and many more serving regional areas. For those less suited to technology, there are programs offering assistance dogs to those suffering from various disabilities and conditions. As technology and assistance animals can improve the quality of one’s life, worthwhile experiences can also enhance the lives of those with disabilities. With almost 200 camps for those with physical disabilities and over 100 for those with developmental challenges, people of all ages all over the country can go on retreats with peers they can relate to and professionals familiar with their care. NeedyMeds also has information on scholarships for people with disabilities who pursue a higher education. As a group, persons with disabilities are more likely to experience…