By Krista Zodet, President/CEO, HealthWell Foundation  |  Jan 11, 2023

Breaking Down Barriers to Care Throughout the Patient Journey

As President and Chief Executive Officer of the HealthWell Foundation, I am acutely aware of the significant cost barriers that keep patients from accessing life-changing, and oftentimes lifesaving, medications. Decades of scientific breakthroughs have created a world in which many patients with chronic illnesses have real hope for relief of debilitating symptoms, longer lives, and in some cases, a cure. But those hopes can turn to heartache when the cost of treatment is out of reach, as it is for many underinsured Americans.

Krista Zodet

Krista Zodet, HealthWell Foundation

Unfortunately, the high cost of medications isn’t the only barrier to health care. Last year, Real World Health Care examined the significant obstacles faced by Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) communities and ethnic minorities. From reduced access to clinical trials and precision medicine treatments to a lack of culturally appropriate health education and outreach efforts, health system inequities have led to poorer outcomes for underserved populations.

Real World Health Care will continue to cover issues relating to health disparities this year as we bring you insights into the role of food insecurity in patients’ ability to adhere to doctor-prescribed nutrition recommendations. We’ll also look at disparities in transportation access, which can impact the ability to get to a needed doctor appointment, screening or treatment.

Financial Toxicity Creates Lasting Effects

Economic insecurity can affect patients across the socio-economic scale, and studies* show that financial toxicity can be particularly deadly for those with life-altering illnesses like cancer. Even if patients can access cost-sharing assistance from drug manufacturers or charitable patient assistance programs (CPAPs) like the HealthWell Foundation for their systemic treatment, they may struggle to cover the cost of needed screenings, diagnostics, or radiation treatment before systemic treatment can begin.

Real World Health Care will start to explore the effects of financial toxicity at specific points along the patient journey this year. We’ll also look at the issue of financial toxicity from the perspective of family caregivers who often have to give up their income and the way they live to care for a loved one.

We look forward to bringing you news and insights from the organizations, health systems and people who are breaking down these barriers and increasing equitable access to care. Please follow along by subscribing today.

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*Financial Toxicity Can Be Deadly for Patients with Cancer: