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Jessica’s Coping with Lupus Corner

Important Updates for the Lupus Community

Jessica Rowshandel, M.S.W.
Jessica, Rowshandel, M.S.W.
Director of Social Services
S.L.E. Lupus Foundation

Usually my column answers questions that you readers write in. But this month, I’d like to point out how two policy changes are helping lupus patients.

You may not immediately see the connection between sunscreen and affordable healthcare! What could they possibly have in common? Both are undergoing policy changes that are important for the lupus community to know.

Affordable Health Insurance

As of July 1, 2011, premiums for the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan (PCIP) have dropped in many states by up to 40%. Before the PCIP was created in 2010 by President Obama insurers could deny coverage for someone with a serious chronic illness like lupus, asthma, diabetes and cancer.

While PCIP has made it easier for people with pre-existing conditions to obtain health insurance, its cost has been a source of criticism; premiums can be upwards of $400 - $600 a month!

Now, in addition to the drop in cost, PCIP no longer requires proof of having been denied coverage. Instead, you need to submit a letter by your doctor stating that you have a medical condition. Unfortunately, the Plan still requires a six-month period of being uninsured.

Find out if your state is affected by this new policy. The price decrease is only mandated in states where the program is federally run. If you need help enrolling in PCIP or finding affordable lupus care in your region, contact me and I will help connect you to your local lupus chapter.

New Sunscreen Regulations

Summer is at its height in the U.S., which for people with lupus means taking extra care to apply sunscreen to prevent flares. But there’s some new scoop on sunscreen. After long consideration, the FDA has put out new rules on sunscreen:

Currently sunscreen manufacturers are only required to protect against UVB rays, which cause sunburn. The problem is that UVA as well as UVB rays can lead to cancer and promote flares in people with lupus. The level of protection against UVB rays is indicated on the sunscreen by the SPF label.

Some sunscreens are labeled “broad spectrum,” meaning they offer protection against both kinds of sun rays, but there is no current standard for what that means, exactly, for UVA rays. The new regulations will require manufacturers to meet certain standards for UVA rays, which will help us feel more confident that we are really getting proper protection from both types of rays.  Sunscreen manufacturers must implement the new regulations within the next year or two depending on their size.

For tips on sun protection read “Lupus and Your Skin.” You might also consider checking out clothing from stores who claim UV protection like Uniqlo, Coolibar and Sun Precautions.

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Disclaimer: This website and its contents are designed for educational purposes only. Jessica Rowshandel, MSW is the S.L.E. Lupus Foundation’s Director of Social Services. She is not a physician. The advice provided is for educational and informational purposes and the Foundation does not recommend or endorse any particular treatment or therapy. The information provided here should not be used for the purposes of diagnosing or treating a medical or psychiatric illness. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional care. Lupus is a very individualized illness; consult a healthcare professional before making any decisions about your care. If you have or suspect you may have a health problem, you should consult your health care provider. Telephone calls, emails, and online content do not constitute counseling services in any way. The S.L.E. Lupus Foundation does not provide any medical or psychological services to its patients and users. For an accurate medical or mental health evaluation, participants should seek an evaluation from a qualified healthcare professional. S.L.E. Lupus Foundation employees, consultants, and agents shall not be liable for any claims or damages, and expressly disclaim all liability of any nature for any action or non-action taken as a result of the information generated by the S.L.E. Lupus Foundation programs and its website, as well as the S.L.E. Lupus Foundation Facebook and Twitter pages.