Press release

Insurance issues hinder treatment for 33 percent of psoriasis patients

PORTLAND, Ore. (June 17, 2010)—Results from a new survey reveal that one in three people with psoriasis do not receive proper treatment for their disease due to health insurance issues—and many won't be helped by the new health care reform law.

Approximately 7.5 million Americans have psoriasis, a non-contagious genetic disease that results when faulty signals in the immune system prompt skin cells to regenerate too quickly, causing red, scaly lesions that can crack and bleed. Common treatments for psoriasis include topical and oral medications, UVB light therapy, and injectable biologic drugs.

The study, conducted by the National Psoriasis Foundation, reported:

  • 11 percent of people with psoriasis could not access a needed treatment because their insurance did not cover it;
  • 11 percent could not get a prescribed treatment because of high copay costs;
  • 12 percent with psoriasis went without treatment because they had no health insurance.

"Though it offers many positive changes, the new health care law does not prevent insurance companies from limiting the types of treatment they will cover for people with psoriasis and other chronic diseases, and it does not limit the copayments insurance companies can require," said Randy Beranek, president and CEO of the National Psoriasis Foundation. "The Psoriasis Foundation and our advocates will continue to monitor the new law and work on our population's behalf to ensure their needs are met."

Beranek said that insurance companies sometimes require that patients try and fail a series of treatments before being allowed to access medications as prescribed. Companies may also make certain treatments available only if a large percentage of the patient's body is covered with psoriasis. These policies make it difficult for some patients to access treatments that have been recommended by their doctors.

Many patients also face high copays for prescribed treatments. For example, patients may have a copay of $50 a session for ultraviolet light treatment, a form of therapy that can be very effective for some forms of psoriasis. A typical patient might require three treatments a week for 12 or more weeks, creating out-of-pocket costs of $600 a month.

The National Psoriasis Foundation has also been working with state legislators in Illinois as a pilot initiative to advocate for limits on copayments charged for phototherapy.

Disease severity has consequences

Psoriasis impacts those with very severe disease on many fronts. Among those with very severe disease:

  • 62 percent are obese versus 41 percent of respondents with mild to moderate forms of psoriasis;
  • 51 percent score poorly on quality of life measures versus 30 percent of respondents with mild to moderate disease;
  • 37 percent see three or more doctors to treat their psoriasis;
  • 60 percent say psoriasis is a large problem in everyday life.

"Psoriasis is a serious autoimmune disorder and proper treatment can dramatically improve the lives of people with the disease," said Beranek. "We must ensure that everyone has access to the treatments recommended by their physician."

About the survey

National Psoriasis Foundation conducts an annual survey of people with psoriasis and/or psoriatic arthritis. The recent study included 422 respondents contacted via telephone and email.


About the National Psoriasis Foundation

National Psoriasis Foundation (NPF) is the world's largest organization serving people with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis. Our priority is to provide the information and services for people to take control of their condition, while increasing research to find a cure. In addition to serving more than 2.1 million people annually through our patient and professional education and advocacy initiatives, NPF has funded more than $10 million in psoriatic disease research. Visit us online at www.psoriasis.org or call 800.723.9166. Follow NPF on Facebook and Twitter.