Access to Care for People With Psoriatic Arthritis

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The term "access to care" is used to describe the degree of difficulty a person experiences in seeking affordable, effective health care. This can include the ability to see the appropriate healthcare provider when they need to see them.

For people with chronic health conditions such as psoriatic arthritis (PsA), access to care is vital for the management of their disease. If a person cannot receive the care they need, their condition can worsen, leading to further disability and a decreased quality of life. 

This article discusses why access to care is so important for people with psoriatic arthritis.

Woman with psoriatic arthritis hand symptoms

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The Importance of Caring for Psoriatic Arthritis

Psoriatic arthritis is a form of arthritis that coexists with the skin condition psoriasis, which causes itchy, scaly patches on the skin. Unlike psoriasis, which affects the skin, PsA mainly affects the joints and can lead to swelling, pain, and stiffness.

When people undergo treatment for PsA, they can limit the disease's damage and slow its progression, thus, maintaining an overall quality of life.

However, without access to care, permanent joint damage can occur and people may lose mobility. There is also the inflammation characteristic of PsA that, if left untreated, can lead to other diseases.

How Many People With PsA Lack Access to Care?

One study examined access to care for people with psoriasis and PsA and found that, while as many as 92.4% of patients see a healthcare provider for their PsA at least once every two years, of those, only 78.3% were able to see a specialist. Roughly 10% of people were unable to see a healthcare provider at all for their condition in a two-year period.

Barriers to Psoriatic Arthritis Care

There are various reasons why people with PsA may experience a lack of access to care. According to research, those reasons include:

  • Giving up on treatment because they are unaware of all available treatment options
  • Being unable to afford care because of lack of insurance or insurance that doesn't cover PsA treatment
  • Having a difficult time getting in touch with healthcare providers or getting to appointments
  • Shortage of proper specialists available to see patients

Cost of PsA Care

Research has shown that one of the biggest hurdles for PsA care is cost. Patients with access to insurance plans such as Medicare or Medicaid are much more likely to go through the process of receiving proper care for their condition than those who do not.

Overcoming Barriers to Care

It can be difficult to overcome certain barriers to care, but there are ways that can improve a person's ability to receive the care they need.

Telemedicine, for example, is a great way to help people gain access to care. Telemedicine involves the use of technology, such as video chats or phone calls, as a way to receive health care services. Research has shown that people with PsA can greatly benefit from improved access to care if telemedicine is made available to them.

Providing affordable care for people without insurance is also a step toward better access to care. The National Psoriasis Foundation offers several resources, including information on affordable health insurance, financial assistance options, and health clinics that work with patients so that they pay only what they can afford to pay for their care.

Additionally, some pharmaceutical companies have programs that help provide expensive medications at a lower cost to eligible individuals.

What Else Can Be Done to Improve Access to Care?

While steps are being made toward better access to care, it is still an uphill battle. Other improvements that are being explored include:

  • Direct access to specialists so people don’t have to wait for referrals
  • Increasing the number of practicing rheumatologists (specialists in conditions of the joints, bones, and muscles) nationwide
  • Providing more specialized training for primary healthcare providers

Summary

People with psoriatic arthritis (PsA) have to manage their disease to avoid long-term disability. The only way to do so is to have proper access to health care and the appropriate medications.

Cost is one of the biggest obstacles people face when trying to maintain adequate care for their condition, and they may avoid treatment because of long wait times to see specialists and not knowing about available treatment options. This can lead to people stopping care altogether.

To ensure that access to care is improved, telemedicine and providing affordable care can help to eliminate the barriers that affect people with PsA the most. 

A Word From Verywell 

Having PsA can be difficult, so it's important to have access to a healthcare provider to ensure your condition doesn’t progress or get worse. On top of having to cope with the disease itself, obstacles to care make living with PsA more challenging. The resources mentioned in this article can help you find affordable care so that your condition can be better managed.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Does health insurance cover psoriatic arthritis treatment?

    There are certain types of insurance that will cover psoriatic arthritis treatment. However, it’s not clear if they all do. To ensure that you get an insurance plan that does, you can go to the National Psoriasis Foundation health insurance resource page. It can provide you with the information you need to choose the right insurance provider for you.

  • Is psoriatic arthritis curable?

    There is no cure for PsA. However, medical advancements in treatment options for the condition have greatly improved in recent years. Because of this, managing the condition can be a lot simpler with the proper treatment plan in place.

  • What is access to care?

    "Access to care" is a term used to define how easily a person can receive the care they need from the proper healthcare providers. It focuses on affordability of care, accessibility of transportation to and from a medical center, the services available, how quickly care can be received, and if there are enough specialists to meet patient demand.

5 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. Access to care.

  2. National Psoriasis Foundation. Why treat psoriatic arthritis?.

  3. Bhutani T, Wong JW, Bebo BF, Armstrong AW. Access to health care in patients with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis: data from National Psoriasis Foundation survey panels. JAMA Dermatol. 2013;149(6):717-721. doi:10.1001/jamadermatol.2013.133

  4. Miloslavsky EM, Bolster MB. Addressing the rheumatology workforce shortage: a multifaceted approach. Semin Arthritis Rheum. 2020;50(4):791-796. doi:10.1016/j.semarthrit.2020.05.009

  5. Gottlieb AB, Wells AF, Merola JF. Telemedicine and psoriatic arthritis: best practices and considerations for dermatologists and rheumatologists. Clin Rheumatol. 2022;41(5):1271-1283. doi:10.1007/s10067-022-06077-3

By Angelica Bottaro
Angelica Bottaro is a professional freelance writer with over 5 years of experience. She has been educated in both psychology and journalism, and her dual education has given her the research and writing skills needed to deliver sound and engaging content in the health space.