According to the American Heart Association, roughly 6,500,000 stroke survivors are alive in the United States as of 2009. Unfortunately, many of these survivors suffer from a host of stroke-related complications. These complications may include paralysis, difficulty talking or swallowing, memory loss, cognitive impairments, and pain. Moreover, treating these complications can be expensive. While financial assistance for stroke survivors depends on the individual's situation, there are several options worth exploring.
Local Colleges and Universities
Local colleges and universities provide two potential options for financial assistance. First, many local colleges and universities offer free or low-cost therapy sessions administered by graduate students. While some stroke survivors may be hesitant to work with graduate students, the American Stroke Association points out that the treatment is often exceptional and the graduate students are supervised by licensed professionals. A second potential option involves enrolling in a treatment study. Many colleges and universities, as well as hospitals and government agencies, offer free or low-cost treatment to individuals who qualify for a clinical study. To find a study that is currently seeking participants, see the "Clinical Trials" link in Resources.
Social Security Disability
According to the American Heart Association, as of 2009 stroke is the leading cause of long-term disability in the United States. Stroke survivors may qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance if they were working and contributing to the Social Security program long enough prior to becoming disabled. If they were not working long enough, stroke survivors may still qualify for Social Security benefits under the Supplemental Security Income Program, provided they meet the financial requirements. In order to learn more about Social Security programs, see the third link in References.
Several programs available may help reduce the cost of treatment. The most popular program is the Medicare program offered by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Approximately 4.4 million living Medicare beneficiaries have suffered a stroke (2009 figure). Under the Medicare program, the government pays for certain pharmaceuticals and other treatments needed by stroke survivors. For more information about the Medicare program, see the link in Resources.
Reducing the Cost of Pharmaceuticals
Much of the financial burden associated with a stroke can be attributed to the cost of pharmaceuticals. There are two resources that provide up-to-date lists of programs that may help. First, NeedyMeds.com provides a database of assistance programs offered by pharmaceutical companies. Second, RxAssist.org lists several public and private resources available for qualifying individuals.
Using a volunteer, rather than a paid professional, when possible helps reduce the financial costs following a stroke. The American Stroke Association recommends looking for a volunteer at a local volunteer organization, church, college, or senior center. Moreover, you may be able to find volunteers by joining a local stroke support group. Furthermore, a local stroke support group will be able to provide additional tips on reducing the financial costs associated with a stroke. To find a stroke support group near you, see the link in Resources.
Thomas King is a graduate of the University of Pittsburgh School of Law where he served as managing editor of the "Pittsburgh Journal of Environmental and Public Health Law." He currently lives in Aberdeen, Washington where he writes and practices law.