Many AMD Patients in Australia Face Out-of-Pocket Expenses Hike for Treatment

( Many Australians with age-related macular degeneration (AMD) will soon face more out-of-pocket expenses for medications to treat their eye condition, according to The Sydney Morning Herald on September 2.

The article, which looked at the case of 71-year-old Helen Ingleby, noted that the retired woman will face a substantial out-of-pock expense hike to $500 from $100 per month due to new Extended Medicare Safety Net changes. The article noted that the changes will limit the value of government refunds issued to people to compensate for fees that exceed the regular Medicare fees. She will bit hit with the fee hike as of November 1.

According to the article, Ingleby is not alone in her plight as there are currently some 167,000 Australians with AMD. What’s more, there are a further 1 million Australians older than 50 who have AMD symptoms. The blindness-causing eye condition is the country’s leading cause of vision loss. And, according to various reports, the prevalence of AMD is likely to increase as people live longer due to medical advances.

The report cited Ingleby as saying that she, not to mention a lot of other AMD patients, are worried that the cost may be too much to shoulder. She not only wondered how long she will be capable of paying the increased amount for her eye injections, but also stated that many people will be sentenced to “go blind” since they won’t be able to afford treatment at all.

According to the article, Ingleby, who was diagnosed with the eye condition two and a half years back, has the wet form of AMD in her left eye and the dry from of AMD in her right eye. She now gets injections of Lucentis in her eyes.

The article cited Macular Degeneration Foundation CEO Julie Heraghty as saying that two out of 10 patients getting eye injections would, under the funding-cap changes, be on the receiving end of higher out-of-pocket expenses. She explained that the majority of physicians charge less than the $546.05 fee for injections into the eye, which means that their patients would be spared increases to out-of-pocket expenses. She advised patients who will have to pay more to see their doctors for advice on their options.



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