Brought to you in partnership with the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation (MMRF)
When you are diagnosed with a condition like multiple myeloma, you expect your doctor to discuss every possible treatment option with you so that you can make an informed decision on which one may be best for you. Unfortunately, Blacks are often denied the proper treatment for a number of reasons. One of those reasons is their finances. Many Blacks are denied access to certain drugs and methods of treatment due to low finances or lack of adequate insurance.
Myeloma nurse practitioner Amy Pierre, who works with the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation (MMRF), detailed the increased struggle for Black patients with myeloma. Access to quality care and adequate treatments is one of the biggest obstacles Blacks face when they are diagnosed with myeloma.
“Despite its high incidence in African Americans, there are several health care disparities that have been established in the literature for African Americans with multiple myeloma, including delay in diagnosis, delay in initiation of novel therapies, lack of usage of standard of care novel therapeutics, delay in or low usage of stem cell transplantation and low representation in clinical trials,” Pierre says. “Additionally, African Americans with multiple myeloma have more comorbidities (more than one disease or condition present at the same time) than other racial groups as well as a higher cost of care.”
RELATED: Why Should African Americans Participate in Clinical Trials
What can you do if this happens to you?
MMRF has a collection of valuable resources to help you along every step of your multiple myeloma journey.
Their financial assistance center will connect you with the people and resources you need to make access to quality care easier.
RELATED: Can Clinical Trials Help Black Multiple Myeloma Patients?
What resources are available?
The good news is there are many groups and programs that can provide support and assistance throughout your journey. Whether you need a ride to your treatment, financial aid, or help understanding your insurance, this list offers a range of resources to help.
For easy access, these “MMRF approved” resources are broken up into five categories depending on what type of assistance you are looking for to help you through your myeloma journey. The resources below can help bridge financial gaps:
- Manufacturer Reimbursement Assistance Programs
- Transportation to Treatment
- Treatment Access/Reimbursement Programs
- Caregiver and Mentor Resources
- Cancer Network
RELATED: Treatment Approaches for Newly Diagnosed Multiple Myeloma Patients
Pierre adds that clinicians need to understand the disparities that Blacks have to fight and design care specific to them.
“Tailoring your care plan to break down these barriers is the next step. Examples include facilitating access for patients to receive care by myeloma specialists, recognizing stem cell transplant eligibility at diagnosis, assisting adherence to therapeutics and supportive care and counseling patients on the value of clinical trial participation,” Pierre says.
Before you begin your myeloma treatment, you should consider meeting with a financial counselor. The counselor will be able to help you determine how much your insurance will cover and estimate how much you may have to pay out of pocket. Medicare and Medicaid may have restrictions on treatment options.
RELATED: What Is Your Best Multiple Myeloma Treatment Option?
“It is essential for Black patients to be cognizant of the disparities that exist for African Americans with multiple myeloma so that they are able to be their own best advocate to receive optimal and timely care for successful outcomes,” Pierre concludes.
Overall, not being able to get the best treatment due to financial burden is understandably worrisome, but with the right resources, education and assistance, you can still effectively treat your myeloma.