The Cost of Crohn's
Last updated: June 2022
I like to view my lifelong illness in the most optimistic light possible. If I have to live with a disease forever, I may as well embrace it and not complain about it, otherwise my life will be miserable for all eternity. If you can't change it, change your attitude, right?
The one area, however, that I struggle with is the "cost" of having Crohn's disease. Medications are expensive, taking days off work costs money, and losing time, in general, is a finite resource that perhaps may cost the most. I have found that the disease is going to cost us something – time and/or money – in one form or another and have decided to commit to a method that works best for me and that essentially costs the least.
Below is a breakdown of how I have compartmentalized the ways that Crohn's has made me exhaust my resources, hoping it will shed some light as you navigate your journey with Crohn's and prevent it from robbing you of physical and emotional wealth.
Cost of Crohn's disease medication vs. cost of testing
It is no secret that some biologics are extremely costly. I, personally, went from paying $5 per injection for Stelara to $2,500 per infusion for Entyvio. However, Entyvio has kept me in remission. It has prevented me from needing tests, imaging, and colonoscopies, which certainly add up throughout the year.
I feel that living with this disease is going to cost money in order to keep it under control, whether it be proactively or once a problem arises, and I would rather spend money on a treatment that works for me rather than on expensive tests and scopes. I also understand that in a perfect world, Stelara would have worked and I would be able to skip the expensive testing and the expensive medication, but that is not how my disease panned out so I am focusing on the fact that I would rather pay for medication that keeps me out of the hospital, thus also giving me a better quality of life.
Quality of life
Speaking of quality of life – that is something that Crohn's may cost us if not managed or treated properly. I spent most of my 20s in and out of the hospital which definitely affected both my professional and personal life. Vacations were canceled, time at work was lost, and my quality of relationships surely suffered. Sometimes, this is out of our control and we have to wrestle with the fact that Crohn's can rob us of precious time and life experiences.
This seems to be the most difficult "cost" to me since time is a finite resource and there are some things that we will never get back and we cannot use our unused minutes at a later date when we are feeling better.
Missing work because of Crohn's
Lastly, I have found that missing time in the office (or working virtually) has cost me more than I had ever expected. Circling back to the cost of medication versus cost of testing, this is another option to weigh in before starting a biologic that is more costly. Should it work, you will most likely miss less work time or be able to get that dream job you wanted without the haunting shadow of Crohn's lurking closely behind. Yes, it may seem that most of your paycheck may be going towards medication and/or testing, but if you are allowed to succeed at your career in addition to living a higher quality of life, then maybe it is worth it.
I lost plenty of time at work while I was in my corporate job years ago and found that it had a ripple effect through my entire life. Financially, I was hindered, and emotionally, I was stressed. The days I spent in the hospital with a flare only made things worse because I was thinking about how much work I was missing, only making my symptoms worse. It was a vicious circle I couldn't escape, and I do not wish it on anyone.
The cost of Crohn's disease is inevitable
The bottom line is, Crohn's is going to cost us something. Whether it be financially or emotionally, from losing time to losing relationships, but it is up to you to decide which is most important to you in order to make your life more enjoyable.
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