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Protecting Patients’ Skin and Skin Patients this Winter

As thermostats turn up, clocks turn back and the calendar turns toward the holidays, ’tis the season for cold, blustery air and dry, flaky skin.  

The good news is, November is Healthy Skin Month. And the American Academy of Dermatology is once again celebrating with tips to help patients of all ages protect their skin for the winter, and a lifetime. 

Long term, the best habits for healthy skin mirror the best habits for health: eating and sleeping well, avoiding excess stress and sunlight, and staying hydrated. 

In the winter months, extra care can go a long way. Skin protective behaviors include:  

  • choosing gentle cleansers for the face and body
  • hydrating the skin with moisturizers 
  • taking shorter showers and avoiding hot water 
  • treating the skin with rejuvenating retinol and retinoid creams. 

For many patients, though, healthy skin is not just a matter of good habits. One-in-four Americans are afflicted by skin disease, and many need prescription-strength therapies to treat them. 

Unnecessary Barriers Delay Care 

Unfortunately, dermatology is not immune from many of the dysfunctions that plague America’s health care system. Two challenges patients face are the high out-of-pocket costs for medications and the tactics insurance companies and pharmacy benefit managers create to maximize their own revenue by shifting costs onto patients. 

Co-pay accumulator adjustment programs are one example. Plans with one of these programs in place exclude patients’ drug co-pays from counting toward their insurance deductibles. They allow insurers and their pharmacy benefit managers to “double dip” on money earmarked to lower out-of-pocket costs. As a result, patients either face higher prices at the pharmacy counter, or they forgo or delay treatment until they can afford it. 

Sixteen states have already prohibited these exploitive co-pay adjustment policies, and bipartisan legislation has been introduced in Congress to ban them nationally. 

Like healthy skin, a patient-centered health care system cannot be achieved in a single month, but only through years of sustained commitment and good choices. This November is a good time to begin working toward both.

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