Lyme disease is an illness that can negatively affect people’s lives for weeks and months—and sometimes much longer. The disease is notoriously difficult to diagnose and treat, making it both physically and financially draining. If you’re battling Lyme disease and aren’t sure how to pay for Lyme treatment, this article offers resources to help lift the financial burden.
What is chronic Lyme disease?
Every year, black-legged ticks transmit Lyme disease to over 300,000 people across the US, making it the most common vector-borne illness in the States, according to the CDC. These ticks are about the size of poppy seeds, and mainly inhabit the Northeastern and Northwestern US.
Chronic Lyme disease, also known as post-treatment Lyme disease, is the term used when people infected with the disease continue to experience symptoms even after they’ve received treatment.
How is Lyme disease diagnosed?
Lyme disease has been nicknamed “the great imitator” because its symptoms mimic those of so many other illnesses. Doctors often analyze blood tests as well as a patient’s symptoms to determine if they may have Lyme disease.
The two common tests used to diagnose Lyme disease measure someone’s antibody response to the bacterial infection: the Western blot test and the enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) test, according to LymeDisease.org.
Lyme disease test costs can run hundreds of dollars since they aren’t typically covered by insurance companies. Before getting any testing done, it’s a good idea to check with your insurance company and find out what costs to expect.
How to treat Lyme disease
While there is no cure for Lyme disease, catching and treating it as early as possible with a round of antibiotics offers the best chance of recovery. If someone suspects they have been bitten by a black-legged tick, their doctor will usually prescribe an oral dose of antibiotics.
For chronic Lyme disease treatment, doctors usually prescribe several courses of intravenous antibiotics. Specialized Lyme disease doctors focus on individualized treatment, though, as the disease can manifest itself differently from individual to individual.
Lyme disease financial assistance
Because the CDC states that Lyme disease can be treated with 30 days of antibiotics, the majority of insurance companies do not recognize chronic Lyme disease as a legitimate illness and will not pay for long-term treatment.
The cost of Lyme disease treatments can run into the thousands for patients each year—and sometimes each month. This puts people suffering from chronic Lyme disease in a very tough financial position and makes it difficult to pay medical bills. It might even lead to medical bankruptcy. Thankfully, there are still a few ways to pay for Lyme disease treatments without insurance.
Lyme disease grants
- The Lyme Light Foundation awards up to $10,000 for individuals and up to $30,000 for families who demonstrate a financial need.
- The Lyme Test Access Program (Lyme-TAP) reimburses up to 75% of out-of-pocket expenses for Lyme disease tests.
- LymeAid 4 Kids is a grant program through the Lyme Disease Association and provides those under 21 up to $1,000 toward Lyme disease diagnosis and treatment.
Government assistance for Lyme disease
While there aren’t many government assistance programs that help offset Lyme disease costs, filing for disability can make life easier while you receive treatment. Applying for Lyme disease disability benefits can be tricky, but the Benefits.gov website lists the benefit programs from every state with information on how to apply.
Crowdfunding for Lyme disease
Without the help of insurance to pay for expensive treatments, thousands have turned to crowdfunding to offset Lyme disease costs and pay for out of pocket medical expenses. Crowdfunding allows people to tap into their network for support during difficult times. By launching an online fundraiser, you begin finding financial relief right away.
GoFundMe’s free fundraising platform means you can keep more of the donations you receive, and it’s simple to withdraw your funds right when you need them. And if you need help getting started, our blog offers fundraising tips and a medical crowdfunding guide that offers advice specific to medical fundraising.
Real people who used crowdfunding to pay for Lyme disease
It might sound intimidating to put yourself out there and ask for help, but it’s important to remember that your friends and family want to help you recover. To see how it’s done, take a look at these real people who turned to crowdfunding when they didn’t know how to pay for Lyme treatment.
When Nora’s health began to rapidly decline more than a decade after she was bitten by a tick, she suspected she might have Lyme disease. With a sense of humor and plenty of determination, Nora started an online fundraiser to pay for treatments at a reputable Lyme disease center in Idaho. She raised over $22,000 that put her on the path to recovery.
Craig turned to crowdfunding when his good friend and fellow firefighter Gary contracted Lyme disease after being bitten by a tick in a brush fire. After eight years of battling the disease, Gary is now wheelchair-bound and in need of a wheelchair-accessible home. Friends and community members rallied around Gary and raised over $40,000 to help him and his family.
Another victim of a tick bite, Tom suffered from Lyme disease unknowingly for many years before he was finally diagnosed with late stage neurological Lyme Disease. Once an outdoor enthusiast, the disease left Tom unable to perform basic tasks or care for his family. Tom’s brother stepped up and created an online fundraiser that has brought in $26,000 to help Tom and his family find hope and financial peace.
Get financial help for Lyme disease today
There may not be a definitive end to chronic Lyme disease, but a healthier future is definitely possible with the right care and treatment. If the thought of seeing a Lyme-literate doctor without insurance is daunting, or if you’re wondering how to get help with bills, GoFundMe can help. Sign up to create a Lyme disease fundraiser and begin healing today.