HealthWell Foundation Opens Giant Cell Arteritis Fund

8/1/17

The HealthWell Foundation®, an independent non-profit that provides a financial lifeline for inadequately insured Americans, has opened a Giant Cell Arteritis Fund to provide copayment and premium assistance to eligible Medicare patients. Through the fund, HealthWell will provide up to $6,000 in copayment or premium assistance to individuals who have annual household incomes up to 400 percent of the federal poverty level. The new fund will assist these patients in accessing critical medications for treatment of their disease.

Giant cell arteritis (GCA), also known as temporal arteritis, is an autoimmune disease and a form of vasculitis. Autoimmune diseases are conditions in which immune cells, which normally help fight infections, are misdirected to attack healthy tissues. In the case of GCA, these immune cells are involved in an inflammatory reaction in large arteries of the body, which damages the blood vessel branches of the aorta and often the aorta itself. The inflammation in GCA can cause swelling of the blood vessel wall and narrowing or blockage of the blood vessel lumen, causing decreased blood supply to the neighboring tissues. This may result in severe ischemia or necrosis of tissues ordinarily supplied by the blood vessel. Blindness and stroke are potential dreaded complications of this disease. Inflammation of the aorta may cause weakening of the blood vessel wall and may result in aneurysm formation. According to the Vasculitis Foundation, it has been estimated that 228,000 Americans have GCA.

Joyce Kullman, Executive Director, Vasculitis Foundation, said, "Giant cell arteritis most often strikes people over the age of 50. Treating GCA often requires multiple doctor's appointments, ongoing lab tests, and numerous medications. Treatment can quickly create a financial burden for older patients with limited incomes. The establishment of the HealthWell Foundation GCA fund is wonderful news and will provide a much-needed resource for many patients living with GCA."

"The launch of the GCA fund represents our commitment to expanding our programs to reach as many patients in as many disease areas as possible," said Krista Zodet, HealthWell Foundation President. "People living with giant cell arteritis, or temporal arteritis, can require treatment for years. Out-of-pocket costs associated with treating their condition often present a financial challenge and can be an added source of anxiety. Thanks to our dedicated donors, we are now able to offer GCA patients financial relief in the cost of their treatment."

To determine eligibility and apply for financial assistance, visit HealthWell's Giant Cell Arteritis (Temporal Arteritis) Fund page. To learn how you can support this or other HealthWell programs, visit HealthWellFoundation.org.

About the HealthWell Foundation

A nationally recognized, independent non-profit organization founded in 2003, the HealthWell Foundation has served as a safety net for more than 250,000 underinsured patients in more than 50 disease areas by providing access to life-changing medical treatments they otherwise would not be able to afford. HealthWell provides financial assistance to adults and children facing medical hardship resulting from gaps in their insurance that cause out-of-pocket medical expenses to escalate rapidly. HealthWell assists with the treatment-related cost-sharing obligations of these patients. For more information, visit www.HealthWellFoundation.org.

About the Vasculitis Foundation

The Vasculitis Foundation (VF) is the international organization for people with vasculitis. The VF empowers patients through disease education, raises awareness of vasculitis in the public and medical community, and funds research to determine the cause, develop more effective treatments, and discover a cure. The VF is committed to improving the lives of current and future patients and is positioned as the definitive resource for patients, family members, medical professionals and researchers seeking information about vasculitis. For information about vasculitis and VF, please visit www.vasculitisfoundation.org.

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