Most patients with rheumatoid arthritis spend $1,000 out of pocket, even if they have insurance

PHILADELPHIA — The results of a large survey of patients with rheumatoid arthritis have been published, the company that conducted the survey said Wednesday.

The RA in America 2013 survey included 1,055 respondents with RA at all four stages of the disease — ranging from mild to very severe — who reported symptoms like hand and wrist pain and swelling, general body stiffness, knee pain and fatigue. Such symptoms occurred most frequently in patients between 45 years and 54 years. Respondents reported using a wide range of pharmacologic and complementary and alternative therapies, and 59% report spending more than $1,000 per year out of pocket despite most having health insurance. Almost one-quarter of respondents report being on disability, and 24.6% report that the disease affects their personal relationships; 29.6% report effects on professional development; and 30.6% report effects on relationships with their children.

"We were very pleased at the level of participation we received with this survey," Health Union president Tim Armand said. "For the general public, the results shed light on what it's like to live with RA, and the results will help RA patients themselves see how others live with and manage the disease."