Us gout sufferers go through a lot, let’s admit it. But another area in our lives that gets affected is the financial and economic burden of living with gout. The lost work and income due to gout attacks, the expensive hospital bills, the high cost of prescription drugs, and the list goes on and on. This greatly affects the gout sufferer’s personal finances and the economy as well with the loss of productivity.
According to a 2013 study conducted jointly by Arthritis Research Centre of Canada, the University of British Columbia and Boston University, there is a yearly work productivity loss of $2,021 per gout sufferer who suffers more than 3 attacks per year. For those that suffer six or more attacks per year, the amount climbs to $12,020 for gout related healthcare costs. The estimated economic burden of gout is put at more than $6 billion per year!
Data from the National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey and National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey pulled between 2002 and 2008 showed that there were about 7 million ambulatory visits were associated with gout! About 2 million or 28% of those visits were attributed to gout attacks. The total ambulatory care costs relating to gout emergencies were estimated at $933 million dollars annually! 32% were related to gout attacks and the rest about 61% related to gout prescription drugs complications. What’s worse is that gout-related ambulatory visits more than doubled between 2002 and 2008 and increased significantly with age.
Take it from myself who has gone to work limping with crutches, especially the first time I got hit my gout attack on the big toe as well as the knee. It’s very hard to go and leave work. Some gout sufferers are able to work during gout attacks but others have to take time off because it is too painful. It’s very hard to concentrate if the gout attack is painful as well. It sucks when you have to go to work even though you are suffering in pain but know that you won’t get paid otherwise.
I know some of you have written to me telling me your pay raises were decreased due to all the time off you had to take in the past year. If you are fortunate enough to have insurance or sick pay, then you are one of the lucky ones cause you could stay home and heal 100% before going back to work, not having to worry about your family finances. What’s worse some of you have told me that your employers were not sympathetic towards you about your gout problem. But other gout sufferers experienced sympathy from their employers, adjusting their workload or having them simply work from home. It’s great if you have an office job but if your job requires you to walk and/or stand, then that is much tougher.
For those of you that are in the US and have Medicare there is a special Gout Fund with the HealthWell Foundation that you can access if you meet certain criteria. The financial impact can be troubling. Take an average man or woman who earns $50,000 annually and misses a week of work each year due to gout attacks. That person will lose about $1000 a year for the loss of work if they don’t have insurance or sick pay. Plus don’t forget there is also the medicare costs as well as prescription drugs! One thing’s for sure, everybody can use that extra $1000 and put towards something else. For those of you who want to dig deeper, I’ve linked to a 2015 study that evaluates the financial data of 15 studies in regards to the economic burdens of gout.
In the meantime, the best thing you can do is follow a proper gout diet as outlined in my ebook and website, follow your doctor’s advice and uric acid lowering therapy; and stay physically active as much as you can. Do this and keep a lid on your uric acid levels so you don’t have to miss any work days. If you can try and save funds for that rainy day when you suffer a gout attack and can’t work to be able to better cope with things financially.
Posted by Spiro Koulouris
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