The new fund, which assists with insurance copayments and premiums, provides up to $12,000 in a yearlong grant to those who have annual household incomes up to 500% of the U.S. poverty level.
“For some patients, LEMS may be a marker for an underlying cancer that, if identified early and effectively treated, the autoimmune process may resolve without the need for chronic treatment. A LEMS diagnosis can lead to an earlier detection of cancer,” Nancy Carteron, MD, a rheumatologist and foundation board member, said in a press release.
“Paraneoplastic syndromes, autoimmunity linked to cancer, may be the first or most prominent manifestation of a cancer,” she said. “As with muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis and other autoimmune diseases with movement symptoms, individuals living with LEMS are often faced with a multitude of physical challenges. Covering treatment costs may also present a financial hardship for these patients and their families.”
The foundation’s new fund helps patients focus on managing their condition instead of worrying about paying for treatment, Carteron said.
Some 50 to 60% of LEMS cases stem from an underlying disease, especially small cell lung cancer, the foundation estimates. About half of those with the neuromuscular disorder — which weakens and fatigues the body’s voluntary muscles, typically causing weakness in the upper legs and arms — have cancer or will develop it. Approximately one in 1 million individuals have LEMS, according to the American Association of Neuromuscular & Electrodiagnostic Medicine.
“LEMS can have potentially debilitating effects,” said Krista Zodet, the foundation’s president. “Symptoms of the disease can be managed with the proper treatment. However, the cost may present a financial burden to many. Thanks to the continued support of our dedicated donors who recognize the unmet need of individuals living with LEMS, we are now able to offer a financial lifeline to help them access critical medical treatments they would otherwise forego due to cost.”
Eligible patients must be undergoing LEMS treatment in the U.S, have insurance that covers medication, and receive income that falls within the organization’s guidelines. Visit this site for more eligibility information and to apply.
Founded in 2003, the nonprofit HealthWell Foundation has provided more than 405,000 underinsured patients across 65 disease areas with roughly $1.25 billion in grants. The organization offers financial assistance to adults and children facing hardship due to insurance gaps that cause out-of-pocket expenses to quickly escalate.