A huge part of the Chronic Disease Coalition’s mission is to fight against patient discrimination. With so many discrimination threats across the country, we thought it time to break down what patient discrimination is, and why it’s important.
At its root, discrimination is about treating someone differently because of a particular trait they have. For patients that means being treated differently because of their disease. It is sad to say, but even in this day and age, patients are still facing incredible discrimination in a number of areas of their lives.
One horrible form of discrimination comes from some health insurance carriers. Health insurance exists (or at least should exist) to provide for the needs of patients. Increasingly, however, companies are seeking to deny coverage to the most vulnerable patients on their plans.
In numerous states, insurers have tried to force kidney patients off of their plans – solely because of their disease. In other cases, we have seen fibromyalgia and cancer patients have their financial assistance payments rejected. Some patients, like those with functional neurological disorder, even find it difficult to get their insurance companies to recognize that their disease exists.
These instances are bad enough because they directly affect the ability of patients to get the treatment they need. However, a number of other forms of discrimination against patients also exist.
Chronic disease patients are often excluded from participating in certain professions and occupational activities because of their condition. Until very recently, those with diabetes were prohibited from getting commercial trucking licenses. The Coalition also recently covered how a lack of sick leave protections often leaves chronic illness patients having to choose between their job and their health needs – something no one should have to decide.
Chronic disease patients deserve support and inclusion, and we’re hopeful that a broad-based group of consumers can help to fight discrimination against people based on chronic health conditions. Together we can end patient discrimination.