When someone is newly diagnosed with a lung disease, it makes sense that their mind will be filled with questions. One of the first things most people do nowadays is a deep dive on the internet. While search engines may be able to answer some questions, they cannot consider the unique conditions and concerns of an individual. For that reason, they sometimes paint a very dark and inaccurate picture. That is why resources like the Lung HelpLine are so essential to getting the best care.

“We get a lot of people who bring us initial test results that they need help interpreting. We are here to help them comb through resources and pointing them toward reliable ones, but also to keep them from panicking over the possible severity of the problem,” Mark Courtney of the Lung HelpLine explains.

A registered respiratory therapist, Courtney, has been a key staff member working for the Lung Helpline since 2000. He is one of many staff members at the Lung Helpline who serves as a liaison between those with questions and the healthcare experts nationwide who may have the answers. In 2022 alone, the American Lung Association’s HelpLine assisted over 31,000 individuals through email, live chat and phone calls. But its wealth of information could touch even more lives. 

Answering the Toughest Questions

The HelpLine webpage is frequently updated to reflect the top questions on the online communities' minds. “A lot of resources that we have developed have been out of need because we want to be able to provide our callers with whatever resources they need, so we are constantly adding new ones,” Courtney said. “For instance, there is not currently a lot of information about supplemental oxygen, especially portable options, so we are working with experts to vet resources and add to our knowledge.”

Aside from oxygen therapy, one of the foremost concerns for many people who contact the Lung HelpLine is about finding a way to afford necessary medication that may not be covered by insurance. Taking medication regularly is essential for many chronic lung disease patients, especially those who struggle with asthma or COPD, but it doesn’t come without a cost. Clinical resources can offer some tips for navigating the confusing financial landscape and overcoming some of the most frequent hurdles. 

For instance, many Americans don’t know that in addition to Medicare and Medicaid, your state or local government may have additional assistance programs. Pharmaceutical companies, pharmacy chains and nonprofit organizations also offer programs that provide access to free or low-cost medicines for those who meet their eligibility. In addition, people without health insurance who may be overwhelmed by options on HealthCare.gov, can find resources on the HelpLine webpage that can help you learn more about shopping for health insurance and choosing a plan.

Connecting with Partners 

One of the reasons the Lung HelpLine can offer superior information is because of long-term partnerships with experts. One such partnership that is particularly helpful to those looking for financial assistance is with the Patient Access Network (PAN) Foundation. PAN works hard to ensure that everyone can access and pay for essential medical care. This is not just a significant problem for the uninsured, but also for people who have health insurance. Rising premiums, deductibles, co-pays and coinsurance prevent many people from being able to afford the critical treatment they need. 

Some charitable foundations and other nonprofits offer financial assistance that can be used to pay for a range of out-of-pocket costs associated with an illness. Depending on the program, patients who qualify may be able to use the funds for medicine, doctor visits, travel expenses and health insurance premiums. The PAN's FundFinder is a web-based app designed to quickly notify registered users when financial assistance for their condition becomes available from any of the charitable patient assistance foundations.

Offering Ongoing Help

Those with a chronic condition will tell you, as one question gets answered, others arise. Learning to navigate and manage an ongoing health concern is a constant challenge. That is why the Lung HelpLine offers continued assistance if the caller needs it. “When someone is recently diagnosed with a chronic condition like asthma or COPD, we can provide ongoing education as needed based on assessing the needs of the caller. Our medical staff can set up calls to review information regarding their condition and provide guidance,” Courtney explained. Series like Living Well with Chronic Lung Disease and Breathe Well, Live Well are examples of this continued virtual education opportunity. 

HelpLine services are free and available as often as you need. Talk to our experts by calling 1-800-LUNGUSA, submit a question or chatting online.
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