Let’s talk money—The cost of sickle cell.
4 min read

Let’s talk money—The cost of sickle cell.

Let’s talk money—The cost of sickle cell.
Photo by Josh Appel / Unsplash

Sickle cell is expensive. Period! This condition is for life, so there is no way you can run away from the cost associated with it. Today, I am going to attempt a breakdown of the costs incurred by individuals who have the condition, based on my experience and that of others. However, it is important to note that this does not apply to everyone who has the condition.

Let me start with the regular medication I take every day. Currently, I take folic acid and multivitamins (my preferred choice is Zincovit) and a pack of folic acid costs about GHS 10.00 and zincovit is GHS 20.00. In a month, I can take about two boxes of each and that brings the total cost in a month to an average cost of GHS 60.00

The situation is totally different if I have a crisis, and I am admitted at the hospital. The hospital I go to for treatment is a very important factor regarding the costs incurred.  The costs can range between Ghs 50 to Ghs 200 a night. If you stay there for 5 days, then you are looking at GHS 250 or Ghs 1000.00 (Yikes!). This is just to have a bed ooo ...the treatment has not come yet. Sickle cell patients need a lot of fluids, so this means a lot of infusions (IV) will have to be administered.  Each IV is approximately GHC and if you need at least

Now, if you need a blood transfusion, that is another wahala.  Many people go through this everyday, running up and down trying to find the money to pay for their treatments and medication. Imagine that you have to deal with a crisis at least twice a month, running back and forth from the hospital as if it were your second home. That is what people have to deal with. I cannot even imagine the cost of all of that.

Apart from the financial cost, there is also the cost of time. Sickle cell patients lose their time because they are battling with this condition. If you are a student, you lose the opportunity to be in school. When all your other classmates are studying, you will be in the hospital bed. In my previous post, I shared my experience of being sick during the exam period. Honestly, before my bed neighbor came to the rescue, I started to discuss my options with parents and friends. Do I miss those exams? And then what? At a point, someone said that I would probably have to defer the semester and then take an extra semester later. That frightened me. I wanted to avoid having to defer, I preferred not to have to come back and take those missed exams or even re take the semester. That would put me behind. At that point, that seemed to be my only option. Thank God for seeing me through that situation. However, that could have been my reality, and I am sure others have had to deal with that. My mum told me about how she used to get sick all the time when she was younger, and she would miss days and days of school. I will let her tell you more herself.

If you are working, you miss out on time at your workplace. You can not be as productive as expected. Your work piles up because you cannot be there. When I got my new job, about three weeks into my job, I got a crisis, I was like “ yieeee...i hope they don’t fire me ooo...I just started working, and I am already taking sick days.” But, thank God for a supportive boss and team. Even though I had their support, I couldn’t help but feel guilty of not being there.

Now, let's talk about the cost to our family and friends who have to be there for us all the time. Take us to the hospital, leaving everything behind. Staying by your bedside to make sure everything is okay with you. The mental health aspect of it is another issue altogether. Sickle cell affects not just the patient, but the people around you.

You may say, but this is the kind of cost that every sick person has to deal with...and that is true. There are other conditions that cost much more than this, but for us, this is a constant in our life. It does not happen at one moment, and you are healed, and then it is over. It does not work that way. You may have sickle cell, and it can affect so many other parts of your body, if you begin to have organ failure, that is an additional cost. If your eyes begin to hurt due to sickle cell, that is an additional cost, and the thing about it is, it can happen any day, any time. It does not care who you are, when a crisis says, “today is your day,” there is nothing you can do about it. There are people who constantly need blood and this can happen twice a month. That is expensive. Sickle cell requires regular check up, in fact, everyone should have regular check-ups in spite of your health status, but if you have sickle cell, yours should be regular. Honestly, I do not always do that because it involves money that I don’t want to spend. I currently have insurance but still, I hesitate because whatever I do, I still have to do co-pay (pay a small fee).

When I talk about cost, I am talking about it financially, but as you can tell, there are some costs we can’t always put a price to. These costs come whether you are rich or you are poor. This condition respects no one, and you have to be prepared because in some cases, if you can’t afford it, you will be left to anguish in your pain, and the consequences of that are endless. I am not too sure about how the National Health Insurance is working in Ghana now, but when I was in KNUST it helped me when I had a crisis, so if you do not have it, please work on getting one. It can support it one way or the other.