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Insurance Woes Can Add to Burden of Psoriasis
Date:7/22/2010

By Jenifer Goodwin
HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, July 22 (HealthDay News) -- Severe psoriasis had left Steve Schultz feeling like an outcast. At the coffee shop where he worked, customers wondered aloud if they could catch the condition that caused his skin to redden, flake and itch like mad.

After years of failed treatments, Schultz was relieved when an immune-suppressing medication given intravenously returned his skin to near-normal looking.

But after losing his job and being out of work for 18 months, Schultz' coverage through COBRA will run out any day and he's not sure how he will continue to pay for the treatment.

"My medication enables me to live a normal life," said Schultz, 39, of Garfield, N.J. "It has saved me physically, socially and emotionally."

Schulz's predicament is all too common for people with psoriasis, a new survey of 422 people by the National Psoriasis Founds shows. One in three have difficulty getting treatments because of insurance issues -- either their insurance doesn't cover the treatment, they can't afford the co-pay or they have no health insurance at all.

People of any age can get psoriasis, a non-contagious, autoimmune disease that often appears first during the teen-aged years, explained Dr. Lawrence J. Green, an assistant clinical professor of dermatology at George Washington University and a member of the board of trustees for the National Psoriasis Foundation. It occurs when an overactive immune system signals skin cells to regenerate too quickly, causing red, scaly lesions that can flake, crack, bleed and itch.

For some, psoriasis appears only on the scalp, elbows, knees or lower back; for others, it's more widespread. About 7.5 million Americans have the condition, according to the National Psoriasis Foundation. And the impact on people's quality of life can be substantial. According to the survey:

  • More than half of those with severe psoriasi
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