HealthWell Foundation Opens Giant Cell Arteritis Fund to Provide Financial Assistance to Medicare Patients
GERMANTOWN, Md., Aug. 1, 2017 : The HealthWell Foundation, an independent non-profit that provides a financial lifeline for inadequately insured Americans, has opened a Giant Cell Arteritis Fund to provide copayment and premium assistance to eligible Medicare patients.Through the fund, HealthWell will provide up to $6,000 in copayment or premium assistance to individuals who have annual household incomes up to 400 percent of the federal poverty level. The new fund will assist these patients in accessing critical medications for treatment of their disease.
Giant cell arteritis (GCA), also known as temporal arteritis, is an autoimmune disease and a form of vasculitis. Autoimmune diseases are conditions in which immune cells, which normally help fight infections, are misdirected to attack healthy tissues. In the case of GCA, these immune cells are involved in an inflammatory reaction in large arteries of the body, which damages the blood vessel branches of the aorta and often the aorta itself. The inflammation in GCA can cause swelling of the blood vessel wall and narrowing or blockage of the blood vessel lumen, causing decreased blood supply to the neighboring tissues. This may result in severe ischemia or necrosis of tissues ordinarily supplied by the blood vessel. Blindness and stroke are potential dreaded complications of this disease. Inflammation of the aorta may cause weakening of the blood vessel wall and may result in aneurysm formation. According to the Vasculitis Foundation, it has been estimated that 228,000 Americans have GCA.
Joyce Kullman, Executive Director, Vasculitis Foundation, said, "Giant cell arteritis most often strikes people over the age of 50. Treating GCA often requires multiple doctor's appointments, ongoing lab tests, and numerous medications. Treatment can quickly create a financial burden for older patients with limited incomes. The establishment of the HealthWell Foundation GCA fund is wonderful news and will provide a much-needed resource for many patients living with GCA."
"The launch of the GCA fund represents our commitment to expanding our programs to reach as many patients in as many disease areas as possible," said Krista Zodet, HealthWell Foundation President. "People living with giant cell arteritis, or temporal arteritis, can require treatment for years. Out-of-pocket costs associated with treating their condition often present a financial challenge and can be an added source of anxiety. Thanks to our dedicated donors, we are now able to offer GCA patients financial relief in the cost of their treatment."