We Fight Discrimination
Thousands of individuals, families, health care providers and organizations are taking a stand against unfair, illegal and harmful practices toward people with chronic diseases in the United States. We fight discrimination wherever we find it: in schools, at workplaces and with insurance companies.
“Being an advocate gives me a chance to pay forward the gift that was given to me. I received a kidney from a living donor who gave me a kidney “just because” she wanted to help. I cannot repay my donor, but I can help others who are going through where I’ve been and help them have a fulfilling life.”Curtis Warfield
Together We Can Protect
People with long-term or incurable diseases are seeing a rise in cases of discrimination based on their disease.
Americans have one or more chronic diseases.
People with chronic conditions pay 5 times more for health coverage.
Of people with chronic conditions are unemployed or not working.
Common Chronic Diseases
An estimated 5.5 million Americans have Alzheimer’s disease, a type of dementia that causes problems with thinking, memory and behavior. While there is no known cure, treatments, when accessible, can slow the disease’s onset and improve the quality of life for patients and their caregivers.
More than 50 million people have some form of arthritis, the leading cause of disability in the U.S. Researchers continue to seek a cure and ways to treat symptoms and delay progression of the disease. But insurance companies have created “step therapy” or “fail first” policies to make patients try and fail on cheaper drugs before covering what their doctor prescribed.
About 21 million Americans have been diagnosed with cancer, and it isn’t always a one-time event. Ovarian cancer, leukemia and some types of lymphoma might be treated but could still come back eventually. Medical treatment can be costly and is necessary to prevent cancer’s growth or spread.
Approximately 700,000 Americans are affected by Crohn’s disease, an inflammatory bowel disease that requires constant treatment of inflammation of the digestive or gastrointestinal tract.
Medical costs are twice as high for the 29.1 million adults and children with diabetes as for people who don’t have diabetes, a disease in which the body’s ability to produce or respond to insulin is impaired, resulting in high blood sugar levels. There is no known cure, but medical devices and therapies help to control and treat or prevent diabetes complications.
Access to care and appropriate medical treatments is critical to the health, family and employment of patients with epilepsy, a chronic neurological condition characterized by seizures. People with epilepsy frequently encounter barriers with their health insurance coverage as well as discrimination at school and in the workplace.
Fibromyalgia is a condition that causes widespread musculoskeletal pain, sleep problems and fatigue. It affects an estimated 5 million Americans.
Heart disease or stroke
Cardiovascular disease, or heart disease, is a term that includes many different heart-related problems, most of which being related to atherosclerosis – a condition that can lead to a heart attack or stroke. Patients with heart conditions need access to the therapies and treatments their doctors prescribe to manage their disease and to avoid a heart event or death.
Affecting 20,000 Americans and 400,000 people worldwide, hemophilia is a bleeding disorder in which the blood does not clot properly. While it is a lifelong condition, it can be managed through treatments such as regular infusions that help to control bleeding, although insurance companies may try to reject coverage for patients because of the costs of treating a chronic disease.
HIV is a virus that attacks the body’s immune system, weakening the body’s ability to fight off infections and disease. With appropriate treatment, it can be managed long-term, but insurance companies have discriminated against HIV patients by putting their needed drugs in different price tiers.
Chronic kidney disease occurs when a person’s kidneys are unable to properly filter toxins from the blood. Patients often must undergo dialysis treatments several times each week to survive. 661,000 Americans have kidney disease, and many face discrimination by insurers looking to cut costs and increase profits. The only cure is a transplant, and post-transplant medications aren’t always covered by health plans.
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease includes chronic bronchitis and emphysema. This lung disease affects millions of Americans and is the third leading cause of death in the U.S., but it is preventable and treatable. Insurance companies have increasingly limited medication choices to COPD patients, even if it causes harm and discriminates against patients.
Lupus is an autoimmune disease in which the body attacks healthy cells and tissues. It can affect nearly any part of your body, including the heart, joints, skin, lungs, blood, or brain. Many people with lupus end up with additional complications involving their kidneys as well.
Multiple sclerosis is a progressive disease involving damage to the sheaths of nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord, which can lead to impairment of speech and muscle coordination, numbness, blurred vision, severe fatigue or paralysis. More than 400,000 Americans have MS, and many rely on costly or new treatments to manage the disease.
Psoriasis is a skin condition that causes cells to build up rapidly on the surface of skin, creating scaly or red patches of skin that can be itchy and painful. It is a common chronic disease that often comes and goes, but treatment can help keep the skin cells from growing as quickly, improving a patient’s quality of life and comfort level.