Let’s talk money….
Something that a lot of people don’t realize is the impact that Crohn’s (or really any chronic illness) has on finances. Imagine budgeting each month an extra equivalent of your mortgage payment or car payment just so that you can stay well enough to continue earning that money. Once you get that into your budget you learn how to live and even manage to save money. The budget thing is working. Then imagine taking that extra money you worked your ass off to save for a nice vacation and having to use it all on a new treatment that you need to actually keep yourself alive. Or a surgery. Or a hospital visit. Or if its not that drastic you find yourself slowly dwindling away at your savings account to pay for specialty doctors visit, special supplements, and holistic treatments that insurance doesn’t cover. Thats the reality of finances when you have Crohn’s.
I am by no means writing this to complain about money or finances. I know that I am beyond blessed to have a job that I am well enough to work at, a side hustle for extra cash, a husband who also works his butt off, and a family that would help out if I needed it. I am here to shed light on the reality of what having a chronic illness can do to your financial situation. If an affluent, college educated, 20 something with a well paying job she is well enough to work at faces these issues, think about the people who are less fortunate facing the same thing…. It makes me feel lucky to be in the position I am in with the support I have but breaks my heart knowing that there are others out there who are literally spending their last penny just to stay alive.
If you don’t suffer from Crohn’s or a chronic illness you are probably naive to the things one must budget for. A lot of people just think, oh yeah more doctors visits that sucks. It is way more than just that (I mean that is part of it but we’re here to talk about the less obvious).
Doctors visits add up. Even if you are just paying a $20 or $30 copay that can really amount to a lot on top of everything else. You also are not just seeing one doctor. You see your gastro for the root cause of the issues but often times you are also seeing other specialists for the other autoimmune diseases you have developed or to help remedy the side effects from the medication you have to be on. Add in some urgent care visits because you have a weakened immune system and are sick every couple of months at least. Oh, and add in some visits to your therapist/psychiatrist because being sick all the time can cause anxiety and depression.
Next up, medication. Some things are covered fully by insurance which is great but other medications you have to fight to get covered and can still end up being $200-$300 per month. Once you add in infusions that is a whole other story/insurance situation that can be equally as expensive if not more.
Then there are supplements and vitamins. Those things ARE NOT CHEAP. My doctor, love him, but he recommends a probiotic that is literally $200 a month. I. CAN’T. No, but I LITERALLY CAN’T. Then there are all of the vitamins you are deficient on that you have to buy over the counter that add up. Fun fact, if you are so deficient in something that you have to get a super high prescribed dose insurance actually covers it! #unfortunatelifehack
Holistic treatments and alternative medicine are a whole other ball game that most insurances won’t touch so you are paying out of pocket for things like acupuncture or medical cannabis. Not cheap, extremely helpful, potentially not sustainable due to cost.
Dental care is another area where people often are naive to the correlation. Ever since my Crohn’s started escalating my previously perfect teeth all of a sudden were wearing down due to excessive acid reflux. I had cavities that popped up apparently the root cause was also the Crohn’s. I ended up spending an absurd amount of money on a retainer/night guard situation that is supposed to help protect my teeth and prevent future damage. The jury is still out on the ROI of that one…..
The list continues on…. food for special diets, multiple sizes of clothes due to weight gain/loss and bloating, factoring in days off of work if you are paid hourly, unexpected medical procedures, etc.
As I mentioned before, I just want to raise awareness around this impact of Crohn’s/chronic illnesses. I talk about a lot of things very publicly and finances aren’t usually one of them. I don’t think anyone wants to run around shouting from the rooftops that they have just shelled out an exorbitant amount of money on their Crohn’s treatment. This really just scratches the surface of the financial depth of chronic illness. There are so many other factors that stem from the extra financial burden and, for me, most of it is around the guilt I feel. When Matt and I were dating and I was in the beginning of my treatment there were times when he had to pay my medical bills for me. I didn’t ask, he offered, but it still pained me. As a ruthlessly independent person I literally felt (even more) sick to my stomach thinking about him doing that. I was in my early 20s, just started a new job, and had no money in the bank. I am lucky that I have him. Now that I am in a good place career wise my pride has kept me working relentlessly to bring in as much money as possible for our family so that we don’t have to make sacrifices because of MY health. I don’t want to be the reason we can’t go on a family vacation or the reason why we have to empty our savings to pay a doctor.
While the cost of Crohn’s is high I’ve found that sometimes it isn’t even the money that hurts, it is the guilt, fear, and anxiety that go along with the financial burden that really are taxing.
Blonde babe. Maryland native. Crohn's crushing puppy mother to two sweet rescues.
Welcome to my unfiltered commentary on crushing chronic illness in your 20's and everything that goes along with that.