Heart disease is the longstanding No. 1 killer of Americans and the leading cause of death among Marylanders. While this silent killer devastates populations of all racial and ethnic groups, African Americans are at the highest risk— deaths from heart disease among African Americans are 30 percent higher when compared to the White population.
Many African Americans are all too familiar with family members who have struggled with this disease and have witnessed firsthand the devastating effects from physical to psychological to financial. With new breakthroughs in life-saving medicines, why does this death toll remain so high? Access continues to be a defining problem for doctors and their patients.
Even as specialty drugs have become available to treat conditions like high cholesterol, insurance companies and others are working to keep their own costs down by limiting patients’ coverage for them. An April story from the Association Press tells the story of Christian Jacobs, a 24-year-old with a rare form of inheritable high cholesterol.
He takes eight medications, including blood thinners for seven stents that keep his arteries open. When Jacobs found out that UnitedHealth, his insurer, wouldn’t cover a breakthrough drug, Repatha, which is designed for patients like Jacobs, he was shocked.