Lyme Or Chronic Fatigue Get Your Insurer To Pay Up
Bottom Line: Heres a four-step plan to get what you deserve
Charles B. Inlander, a consumer advocate and health-care consultant based in Fogelsville, Pennsylvania. He was the founding president of the nonprofit Peoples Medical Society, a consumer-advocacy organization credited with key improvements in the quality of US health care, and is the author or coauthor of more than 20 consumer-health books.
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As much as you hear and read about chronic Lyme disease, adrenal fatigue and chronic fatigue syndrome, most health insurers do not consider these conditions to be real. The problem is, there is no single diagnostic test that proves any of those conditions is the cause of symptoms you are experiencingeven if your doctor and experts who specialize in treating those conditions conclude that you do have the disease. Some of these conditions have diagnostic codes that are required to file an insurance claim, but many insurers deny the treatment protocol being prescribed, such as long-term antibiotic therapy for chronic Lyme disease.
Other sneaky ways that insurers deny claims
As foreboding as this sounds, there are ways to improve your chances of getting the health insurance and disability insurance coverage you need. Heres my four-step plan for overcoming the controversial diagnosis barrier
What If Lyme Disease Goes Untreated
If Lyme disease goes untreated, it can affect other systems in the body. According to the , common symptoms of later stage Lyme disease include:
- severe headaches and neck stiffness
- additional erythema migrans rashes on other areas of the body
- facial palsy, which is a loss of muscle tone or droop on one or both sides of the face
- arthritis with severe joint pain and swelling, particularly in the knees and other large joints
- intermittent pain in tendons, muscles, joints, and bones
- heart palpitations or an irregular heartbeat
- episodes of dizziness or shortness of breath
- inflammation of the brain and spinal cord
- nerve pain
- shooting pains, numbness, or tingling in the hands or feet
Persistent Symptoms Following Treatment
In most cases, timely treatment according to the appropriate regimen described in the chart above is effective. However, some Lyme disease patients have persistent symptoms following treatment. Research continues into the causes and methods of treatment.
There is no definitive evidence that persistent symptoms represent ongoing infection. Post-infectious inflammation due to damage from the infectious process may respond to anti-inflammatory drugs.
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How Is Lyme Disease Diagnosed In Dogs
There are several tick-borne diseases that occur in dogs that mimic Lyme disease. Also, simultaneous infection with another tick borne organism may complicate or cause more serious problems with Lyme disease.
Screening for Lyme disease exposure is often done in the veterinarianâs office using a blood sample and an ELISA based SNAP test. This test demonstrates antibodies to Borrelia burgdorferi in the blood and can differentiates vaccine induced antibodies from natural exposure.
The western blot test is another laboratory procedure that tests for the presence of specific antibodies, such as Lyme disease. In this method, it can be determined whether or not a dog has been infected with Borrelia burgdorferi and also whether or not a dog has been vaccinated against Lyme disease.
While these tests screen for exposure to the bacteria that causes Lyme, they do not confirm the presence of disease. Clinical signs of the disease and other diagnostic tests, such as blood tests, joint fluid analysis and X-rays are often used to confirm the presence of disease.
Most Accurate: Dna Connexions
Test looks for Borrelia burgdorferi, in addition to 10 other common vector-borne pathogens
Does not accept insurance
No assistance after testing results are received
DNA ConneXions is a company known in the scientific community for its detailed analysis of lab results. This at-home Lyme disease test, for example, is superior to the others because it tests for all 10 vector-borne pathogens, while others only test the most common two or three.
DNA ConneXions earned our most accurate distinction because of its detailed Lyme disease test, as well as its impressive laboratory with a biosafety level 2 lab with a CLIA license. This means the company knows its stuff and is able to help people with accurate testing.
After DNA ConneXions receives your urine sample, it will review your sample, and email you your results within two to three weeks. It is unclear how much support the company offers after you receive your results, so it would be wise to schedule an appointment with your primary care doctor. This is to ensure that your body heals entirely if your Lyme disease test is positive.
This is the most expensive kit on this list, costing about $650 for the full Lyme panel. As of now, it will not work with insurance companies or accept HSA. The DNA ConneXions lab, however, is one of the most trusted laboratories worldwide.
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What Are The Symptoms Of Lyme Disease
Lyme Disease is a bacterial infection that results from a tick bite. The symptoms vary, and you can feel sick for months because of it. Some of the most common symptoms of Lyme disease are flu-like symptoms such as fever, chills, and headache. A rash can also occur in 70 to 80 percent of infections. If left untreated, the symptoms can worsen into facial palsy, dizziness, heart palpitations, and more.
Preventing Lyme Disease In Dogs
You can help prevent Lyme disease in your dog by using tick repellents, vaccination and daily grooming during which time you can check your dogâs skin for ticks.
Your veterinarian should be consulted about the advisability of vaccinating your pet for Lyme disease. Vaccination does not always prevent the disease and because the incidence of Lyme disease is low it may not be recommended in areas where Lyme disease is uncommon.
Do you live in an area active with deer ticks? You can assess the risk in your geographic area â or areas you plan to visit with your dog â by checking out this map of infected tick areas.
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Government Assistance For Lyme Disease
While there arent many government assistance programs that help offset Lyme disease costs, filing for disability can make life easier while you receive treatment. Applying for Lyme disease disability benefits can be tricky, but the Benefits.gov website lists the benefit programs from every state with information on how to apply.
Get Financial Help For Lyme Disease Today
There may not be a definitive end to chronic Lyme disease, but a healthier future is definitely possible with the right care and treatment. If the thought of seeing a Lyme-literate doctor without insurance is daunting, or if youre wondering how to get help with bills, GoFundMe can help. to create a Lyme disease fundraiser and begin healing today.
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Research Suggests Prolonged Impact Of The Tick
Lyme disease, transmitted by a bite from a tick infected by the Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria, had long been considered easy to treat, usually requiring a single doctors visit and a few weeks of antibiotics for most people.
But new research from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health suggests that a prolonged illness associated with the disease in some patients is more widespread and serious than previously understood. With an estimated 240,000 to 440,000 new cases of the tick-borne illness diagnosed every year, the researchers found that Lyme disease costs the U.S. health care system between $712 million and $1.3 billion a year or nearly $3,000 per patient on average in return doctor visits and testing, likely to investigate the cause of some patients lingering symptoms of fatigue, musculoskeletal pain and memory problems. These visits come after patients have finished their original course of antibiotics.
A report on the findings was published online Feb. 4 by the journal PLOS ONE.
Among those with Lyme disease, having one or more PTLDS-related diagnosis was associated with $3,798 more in health care costs as compared to those with no post-treatment symptoms.
These patients are lost, he says. No one really knows what to do with them. Its a challenge, but the first thing we need to do is recognize this is a problem. Theres not a magic pill. These patients already got the magic pill and it didnt work.
How Being Sick Changed My Health Care Views
By Ross Douthat
Often around the turn of the year I perform an act of pundit accountability, looking back on the previous years columns to assess the things that I got wrong. For this Januarys edition, though, Im going to take a different kind of backward glance, and try to answer one of the frequent questions I received when I wrote, last fall, about my experience with chronicillness: Namely, has being sick altered any of my views on health care policy?
Its a good question the answer, like health policy itself, is complicated.
For an example of my pre-illness views, consider a column I wrote in 2013, in the midst of the endless Obamacare debates. Titled What Health Insurance Doesnt Do, it looked at evidence from an Oregon study tracing the effects of a Medicaid expansion that happened via lottery, creating a genuine randomization in the population that had the chance to enroll.
With these findings in mind, my 2013 self warned against health insurance profligacy, on the grounds that if we try to provision everyone with comprehensive coverage, well probably end up encouraging overspending on unnecessary care. Instead, the ideal insurance system would cover genuinely catastrophic expenses, helping people avoid bankruptcy and the worst kind of mental stress but avoiding the overtreatment and cost inflation that you get when you earmark too many public dollars for health and health alone.
Follow The New York Times Opinion section on , and .
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Firefighter Gary Kuhl Relief Fund
Craig turned to crowdfunding when his good friend and fellow firefighter Gary contracted Lyme disease after being bitten by a tick in a brush fire. After eight years of battling the disease, Gary is now wheelchair-bound and in need of a wheelchair-accessible home. Friends and community members rallied around Gary and raised over $40,000 to help him and his family.
Message From The Chief Public Health Officer
Lyme disease is an emerging infectious disease in many parts of Canada, and the Government of Canada recognizes the impact that it has on Canadians and their families. Efforts to prevent and control Lyme disease are being made by a variety of stakeholders, but more can and should be done.
As the interim Chief Public Health Officer, I am concerned about the challenges associated with Lyme disease in Canada. I am grateful to health care providers, patients and their families who took the time to share their experiences. I heard both from patients who have been diagnosed with Lyme disease, as well as others who have experienced various chronic symptoms consistent with Lyme disease or similar ailments.
Overwhelmingly, we have heard that patients and the health professionals that care for them wish to see a call to action. As such, this framework includes an Action Plan , which includes the establishment of a Lyme disease research network.
This is an emerging disease and we don’t have all of the answers. As we move forward collectively, it is critical that we come together with an evidence-based approach, and address knowledge gaps through further research.
I invite all those who have a role to play to join in our collective action on Lyme disease. We will accomplish much by working together in a collaborative manner to identify and implement the solutions.
Dr. Theresa Tam, BMBS , FRCPCInterim Chief Public Health OfficerPublic Health Agency of Canada
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Monitoring For Lyme Disease In Canada
Canada monitors Lyme disease to:
- keep track of the number of people infected with Lyme disease
- identify areas where tick populations may be emerging
- identify the areas where people are most at risk of getting Lyme disease
To get as much information as possible, we work with:
- provincial and territorial public health authorities
- researchers and academics
Can Lyme Disease Be Detected By A Blood Test
In a word: yes!
A blood test does not only detect Lyme disease it is the most accurate and preferred test for diagnosing the disease. If a patient with Lyme disease shows signs that the central nervous system has been affected by the disease, western blot testing on the cerebrospinal fluid can be performed. If ordering from Walk-In Lab, a doctors note is not needed. Just pick your Lyme disease test and place your order online.
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Diagnoses: Viral Infection Arthritis
Freitas Lyme journey began in March 2019 as she battled monthly bouts of fever. She had trouble falling back to sleep late at night. Her hair rapidly fell out. And her body ached and her neck was stiff. She suffered from severe pain in her joints, bones and chest. She also felt tired. At first, Freitas attributed the exhaustion to the bladder surgery she had undergone in April. Fevers hit her in June and again in July.
The unbearable pain made it hard for her to work. It felt like someone was scraping the inside of her right knee with a knife. By August of that year, Freitas took a medical leave, unable to work.
She checked into a Madison hospital for a couple of days. She said the doctor ordered a variety of tests but not for Lyme. Freitas was diagnosed with a viral infection, which she said failed to explain her full slate of symptoms, including electric sensations on her face and arms and forgetfulness.
Four summers earlier, Freitas said she similarly felt eye pain, knuckle pain, fatigue, forgetfulness and headaches. She recalled a rash that had stayed on her leg for at least three weeks. Freitas saw a rheumatologist at St. Marys in early July 2015.
The doctor noticed a red spot on her leg, but it was not the classic Lyme sign of bulls-eye rash. She recalls being tested for Lyme, but the two-step testing came back negative.
What Health Professionals Need To Know About Lyme Disease
Lyme disease is a serious illness caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi. The bacterium is a spirochete transmitted by certain species of Ixodes ticks. It is spread through the bite of infected blacklegged ticks and western blacklegged ticks.
Health professionals are encouraged to further their knowledge of Lyme disease in Canada. This includes the ability to:
- understand and identify the signs and symptoms
- prescribe appropriate treatment for patients diagnosed with the disease
- report human cases through appropriate channels
Symptoms sometimes appear in overlapping stages, as:
- early localized Lyme disease
- early disseminated Lyme disease
- late disseminated Lyme disease
It is important to note that some people with Lyme disease may have no or minimal symptoms. Others may suffer more severe symptoms.
Some people may not develop symptoms until weeks after the initial bite, as described in the early localized disease stage below. In this case, they may not remember the tick bite or associate the illness with the bite. Because the blacklegged tick is so small and usually painless, some people may not even know they were bitten by a tick.
Health professionals should be knowledgeable about the clinical manifestations and epidemiological risk factors of Lyme disease. Consider Lyme disease as part of your differential diagnosis in a patient who presents with compatible symptoms and signs.
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Best For Dna Test: Selfdecode
Tests for chronic conditions related to Lyme disease like PTLDS
Results in 6-8 weeks
SelfDecode searches for more than Lyme disease. When you take an at-home test through this company, youâll receive an entire mock-up of your DNA. You will know if you ever had Lyme disease in the past, as well as if you are susceptible to PTLDS, a chronic condition triggered by Lyme Disease.
The test involves taking a simple cheek swab, after which the test is mailed back to the companyâs lab. After six to eight weeks, you will receive your results via email, and you will be contacted by a medical professional to see what the next steps are.
This is a subscription service that costs just under roughly $100 a year, so you will be able to check yourself for Lyme disease regularly when the test is shipped out. This service is great for those who enjoy the outdoors and are exposed to ticks a lot.
SelfDecodeâs test is not covered by insurance, but most primary care physicians will accept these results.
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Other Pathogens To Blame
Shor and his co-authors, including Maloney, propose that the lingering symptoms are caused by several pathogens from the Borrelia burgdorferi family or other tick-borne pathogens.
Nardelli said theres a variety of symptoms and severity in Lyme disease patients, and those symptoms can be caused by the inflammatory responses against the microbes.
Inflammation is a huge part of the immune response. Its one of the frontline defenses we have, and it has this negative connotation, but it is intended for good, he said. Your immune response trying to kill the bug and in doing so, can cause damage, essentially.Some theories suggest that variants of the Lyme bacteria are resistant to antibiotics. Others argue that chronic Lyme is caused by a powerful immune reaction or it may even trigger an autoimmune disease. The central neural networks may be altered, having a significant impact on symptoms or a combination of these factors.Nardelli is investigating Lyme-related arthritis that persists after treatment with antibiotics. He said science can be a slow process of acquiring new knowledge, and its tough for patients who are suffering with no clear answers.That can lead them to seek out untrustworthy practitioners or fall for costly treatments that dont work. You go out and find doctors that diagnose everything as Lyme disease, Nardelli said.
The whole goal is to get people the right diagnosis so they can get the therapy that they need, she said.
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