By Charlene Cowell, MPA, Executive Director, Hemophilia of North Carolina
Did you know that March is designated as National Bleeding Disorders Awareness Month? While March is a special month for the bleeding disorders community, every month is important when it comes to health insurance and access to treatment.
Bleeding disorders are a group of disorders that share the inability to form a proper blood clot. Symptoms include extended bleeding after injury, surgery, trauma, or menstruation. Bleeding can also be spontaneous, without a known or identifiable cause. Bleeding disorders are caused by defects in blood components such as platelets and/or clotting proteins, also called clotting factors. The body produces 13 clotting factors. If any of them are defective or deficient, blood clotting is affected; a mild, moderate or severe bleeding disorder can result. Most bleeding disorders are inherited, though there are some that can be acquired.
For bleeding disorders like hemophilia, there is preventative treatment, which in recent decades has allowed people to have much fewer debilitating disabilities that occur because of bleeds. This treatment is given most commonly through IV infusions 2-3 times per week. Accessible and regular treatment is an essential part of making sure that people with bleeding disorders can remain healthy. Insurance is critical to ensure that current and future generations of people with bleeding disorders can access these life-saving medications.
For someone with a bleeding disorder like hemophilia, treatment is not an option; it is a necessity. The uninsured have no choice but to receive their care in the emergency department. So, instead of being treated preventively, they will only get treatment when they have a bleed, which results in increased joint damage and increased medical costs to the state. Not only does this hurt the patient and state in the short-term, but it causes long-term negative effects as well. Damage from bleeds cannot be undone and often leads to disabilities. This is preventable. Let’s close the coverage gap by ensuring everyone has access to their treatment, keeping them out of the emergency room, so that they can lead healthy, productive lives! It is a win-win.
Hemophilia of North Carolina (HNC) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the quality of life of persons affected by bleeding disorders through advocacy, education, promotion of research, and delivery of supportive programs and services. HNC’s vision is for all persons affected by bleeding disorders to achieve their full potential without barriers or limitations.