Today is World Arthritis Day, a special time for us to remember that 50 million Americans suffer every day from painful arthritis, and to spread the word about ways to prevent and manage this debilitating disease.
Arthritis is the most common cause of disability. Most of us know someone who is dealing with arthritis, someone who is finding it difficult to pick up a baby, or to walk through the neighborhood because of painful knees. Osteoarthritis, often associated with obesity or injury, affects 27 million Americans. Rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune disease, affects about 1.3 million adults. While arthritis is usually thought of as an older person's disease, most of those affected are younger than age 65, and it can strike children as well.
Promising treatments for many forms of arthritis are on the horizon. For osteoarthritis, prevention may be possible, and staying active helps.
The Affordable Care Act and other Obama administration initiatives have put a new focus on prevention and wellness. Because of the health care law, seniors and other Medicare beneficiaries can get an annual wellness visit at no additional charge to discuss their personal health needs with their doctor. And people with Medicare Part D may be eligible for lower prescription drug costs. The Affordable Care Act also provides for younger women to get a free annual well-woman visit with their health care provider.
The health care law provides important protections for Americans suffering from arthritis and other chronic conditions. In the past, insurance companies could discriminate against people with pre-existing conditions, including arthritis. Because of the health care law, insurance companies cannot deny coverage to children because they have a pre-existing condition. And in 2014, discriminating against anyone with a pre-existing condition will be illegal. Additionally, the Affordable Care Act bars insurance companies from setting dollar caps on lifetime coverage.
To learn more about the Affordable Care Act's new benefits for people dealing with arthritis, visit www.HealthCare.gov. For information on arthritis, go to www.cdc.gov/arthritis.