Financial Impact of HS

Reviewed by: HU Medical Review Board | Last reviewed: December 2020

Receiving a diagnosis of hidradenitis suppurativa (HS) may be very overwhelming. The condition impacts much more than just physical. On a personal level, HS can have a major impact on your finances and wealth. The out-of-pocket costs for medical treatment, medications, therapies all add up.

On a larger scale, HS can impact the overall economy as well. Job losses or decreased work productivity, increased costs, and using the healthcare system are just a few ways.

It is difficult to summarize the cost of HS. This varies from person to person and includes so much more than the physical and financial burdens. This summary highlights some of the financial and economic burden from HS, in the hope to paint a larger picture of the overall, far-reaching impact HS has on people and the economy as a whole.

Personal costs of HS

For you, HS is personal. HS can cause visible wounds on the skin that are not only painful, but can also be embarrassing and emotionally distressing at times. However, HS impacts more than your physical and emotional health. Your financial well-being may also be impacted by HS.

Studies have shown that those with HS spend more money on treatment costs than those of some other skin disorders. For those who require biologic medicines (drugs that work on the immune system) the costs skyrocket. This can be over $60,000 per year for those without insurance. Even if you have insurance, the cost can be astronomical for what you can afford.1

This is hard under normal circumstances, but when times are tough with the economy, this may seem downright impossible to manage. Medical costs related to HS can add up quickly. From insurance premiums and copays to larger costs, these all impact your wallet. Some of these medical costs may include:

  • Visits to your doctor
  • Insurance
  • Medication
  • Surgical costs, if needed

Additionally, it is likely that other conditions may occur at the same time as HS. This is what doctors call a comorbid condition. Having comorbid conditions along with HS will make treatment more expensive because you will be treating more than one condition.

Additional treatments, therapies, and lifestyle modifications

Managing HS involves more than medical treatments and therapies. Those with HS may need to make major lifestyle changes. Some of these may include:

  • Diet changes
  • Weight loss management
  • Wound care
  • Mental health therapy
  • Wardrobe changes to prevent clothing from rubbing together

All of these lifestyle changes require adjustments in your budget, some more than others. While you may be able to make diet and exercise changes on your current budget, buying a new wardrobe or paying for mental health therapy that your insurance does not fully cover may not be an option. These all add to the financial burden of HS.

Larger economic impact of HS

The costs due to HS do not simply impact the people with the disease. People with HS use emergency medical services and are hospitalized more than those with any other skin condition. Costs associated with hospital stays are significantly higher for those with HS than for those with other skin conditions. This may be because of several reasons – the severity of the disease or the fact that the treatments to keep HS at bay are pricey and many cannot afford to use them. In turn, this often forces more ER visits and hospitalizations when the condition worsens.1-3

HS complicates the economic burden on the workforce as well. Studies have shown that those with HS have slower income growth and have a higher risk for leaving the workforce compared to people without the condition. HS has been shown to significantly impact work productivity. Those with HS have an average of 34 work days missed yearly. This loss of productivity and work is difficult to put a number on, but the greater impact on the economy cannot be overlooked.4

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