Case Management: A Savior
Being diagnosed with HIV can come as quite a surprise. Unfortunately, another surprise can come when trying to manage your medical care after the diagnosis. The treatment costs surrounding those with HIV can be overwhelming, especially to those with fixed or low income. There are various assistance programs available to assist individuals with HIV, but individuals must know how to attain this assistance. I learned how many benefits there were thanks to having a Case Manager.
Challenges managing HIV care and treatment costs
After my divorce, I truly felt the drain of trying to manage my HIV care and costs. My income became based on my Social Security Disability. I also was able to activate my Medicare and Medicare Part D. Initially, I genuinely thought I was going to be okay because I had Medicare. I was shocked by the lack of coverage with Medicare, even though my Part D is supposed to be the best one.
Discount cards can't be used with Medicare
I also learned the hard way that the manufacture discount cards will not work with Medicare coverage. Being faced with ridiculously high medical costs on a fix income, my stress started to get the better of me. So much of my energy was spent on trying to figure out how I would cover the costs of all my medications and my doctor appointment copays.
Finding a case manager for help
When I called my Infectious Disease doctor’s office, I spoke to the nurse for a while. I mentioned being in the need of a low-income dental place. She was full of helpful information, to be honest. She did give me the name of a place that works with HIV positive low-income individuals. Although much to my benefit, she continued to give me information.
She told me to look up something called the Houston Resource Guide - the “Blue Book.” While I was unable to get an actual hard copy of this guide, I was able to pull it up online. This guide has almost 200 pages of information on services available to those with HIV. The information can be used to find a case manager or to go through all the individual services on your own. I honestly attempted to deal with the dental options myself through the book but decided to reach out to a couple of the case management agencies.
An accessible and attentive case manager
I reached out to two of the case management offices that were closest to where I live. Despite the COVID situation, one of the agencies contacted me back quickly. The friendly staff helped me get the proof of status from my doctor’s office sent to them and gave me a case manager. Due to the COVID situation, she collected all my information and went over everything they could assist me with over the phone.
By the end of my first conversation with her, I felt so much relief in just knowing that I had somebody on my team and that there were assistance options for me. My case manager is easy to get ahold of over the phone and is responsive to emails. I now have a pharmacy that I can use that will cover the Medicare copay cost of my prescriptions, I have my application in with a dentist office, information on having my ID appointment copay covered for me, and more.
A case manager saved me from extra stress
When I was making myself sick with stress over how to manage everything involved with staying current on my treatments and managing to afford all my necessities, I never imagined that there were so many assistance options available to me. Working with somebody that is knowledgeable about these programs and how to successfully apply for them has made a world of a difference for me. I definitely wish I knew about case management sooner.
Did you know about Case Managers?
Have you ever experienced discrimination due to your HIV status?