MS Student Question

Afternoon Folks :slight_smile:

I was diagnosed with RR MS when I was 19. Thanks to Tysabri I have been managing most of my symptoms well, with fewer relapses.

As a Psychiatric Nurse, I was advised that I would be ‘more than a hindrance than a help’.
However, with that being said, I am now graduating in Psychology with a 2:1 Honours and have been invited to complete a PhD in Education with Mary Washington University… In Virginia. With similar offers in California and Buffalo.

My Question is: a PhD is generally 3 years of work, as such I will need a total of 13 Infusions a year, costing $28,500 (shocking, isn’t it!). So in total, the cost for Tysabri infusions across the period of a PhD is $85,500 (just shy of £65,000) which I frankly, cannot afford. So the question, in short, is, how do health insurers cover these costs, and what can I do to afford this? As this is proving to be an immensely important opportunity.

As this is a UK based forum and you are asking about healthcare costs in the US you might be better looking for advice on US based MS and student forums. Hope you get a good answer and wishing you all the best for your PHD.

1 Like

Just to add, I know that there is a shortage of Neuro Psychologists in the UK, so good luck, we need people like you!

1 Like

Wow! What a clever kid. People are against our NHS in the UK, but people’s health IS NOT a bargaining chip; if you need it; IT IS FREE.

Your great leader wants to get rid of Obama Care. I can’t say “is the man serious” because he is, but that means 40 million Americans will not get any health cover.

How to fund your Tysabri I just do not know. Except to say come and live in England; we would relish your knowledge and you would get free drugs. OK; that is far too simple; family and friends; environment must come into the equation.

Sorry; but the best of luck.


Oh this makes me spit and swear!

Having to pay such an enormous amount of money for a drug that is freely available in UK makes me so mad!

And yeh. George, folk complain about our NHS.

I hope DT is listening!

Well done in your achievments and so much for being in the way!!!



But the drugs are not free are they - they’re paid for partly through our NI contributions, paid by those who work here in the UK and by our employers. I think it’s the concept that healthcare is free in the UK that has brought our NHS to it’s knees. People can’t keep taking out without paying in.

Surely the message to spread internationally must be that similar systems must be encouraged in other countries to the benefit of their citizens. Our NHS is the envy of the so many, but so few have introduced a similar set-up.

I get frightened when I hear that the NHS is likely to crumble under the strain. I fear for the future. I feel the NHS has MS just like me - falling over now and again, confused, uncertain, numb patches, inefficient, needing care…

1 Like

Oh, just to add. I am a UK national, this is an opportunity I was asked to take up when speaking at a higher education teachers and learners conference last week.

I was asking on the prospect of a Scottish student moving to America to study my PhD (I’ve been told I don’t need the MSc due to the depth of my previous research having presented the skills they hoped for masters students) though I do have a masters opportunity in Strathclyde later this year.

I will be returning to work in the NHS since I’ve always wanted to do that. Even before my diagnosis In 2010, i was a Student psych nurse. But the opportunity to study abroad is too much and I still don’t want to let MS tell me what I can and cannot do. I’m 25, and should be able to behave like that :frowning:

It would almost be worth travelling back home every 28 days! Cheaper anyway!

Whilst I wasn’t 100% serious about commuting back from the States for your Tysabri, this is a completely serious reply.

My brother did his PhD in the States so I asked him what the situation would be. He was there a while ago but he is now in the position where his daughter is thinking seriously about going to the USA to do hers so he assures me that the situation hasn’t changed.

He tells me the following:

  1. 1) Students are not allowed to enrol on courses without medical insurance.
  2. 2) If they are US residents they can arrange their own medical insurance (usually still being covered under their parent’s policies.
  3. 3) If they are not US residents, the cost of cover is either added to the fees or is part of any scholarship/study grant they have. (And remember, the more prestigious the University, the more scholarship money they had to dish out.)
  4. 4) The other thing you can do is to get some teaching work as part of the University. You get paid a very small amount for doing this but you do get medical cover. The majority of graduate students do this (or get other on campus work such as working in the library etc). My brother did this - teaching some classes for undergraduates – and he is firmly of the opinion that it is the best thing to do and not over taxing. He was always very scathing about the educational standards of the students he had saying that the standard of teaching was well below that of A-level in the UK (and, on occasion, that it was below O-level/GCSE standard).

My brother was teaching general courses in his subject that allowed students to gain credits towards their eventual degree rather than any specialist courses on his subject. Often he was teaching students on sports scholarships who were not – to put it politely – the sharpest tools in the box! Some courses have a reputation for being easy so the less academically able students could get enough credits to pass their first year. I hate to say this - and it is in no way a slur on your academic subject – but the basic introduction to Psychology courses were some of them! He had a friend who was teaching Geology as a grad student and he used to describe the basic course that he taught - Geology 101 - as “Rocks for Jocks” because of all the college football players that were on it!

It looks like this could be the best way round your particular problem. Good luck finding out what is on offer.

1 Like

I’m afraid the above post doesn’t tell you the most important thing. Health insurers won’t cover you for pre-existing conditions. I lived in the US for a couple of years when my husband was working over there. He had super-duper health insurance as part of his work contract and it covered me as well, for everything apart from my MS. As I had been diagnosed for a couple of years when I went there, they wouldn’t contribute a cent towards drugs for that.


That isn’t the case with every employer’s health insurance. The scope of their cover varies from employer to employer.

In the States, there is a BIG trade off between jobs with good salary and jobs with good benefits. You can have one or the other - but it is unusual to have both.

“Public sector” jobs (which is a very wide definition in the US) are usually better benefit wise but is not much better than poverty level. The Private Sector pays much, much better but the benefits are c*** and health problems can destroy you . As job benefits in the States are genuinely a matter of life and death, it is very common for a married couple to deliberately have one spouse in one sector and the other in the other.

My Brother lived and worked in the States on and off for years. He had pre-existing medical problems that were covered. He has friends there in different roles that have pre-existing conditions or disabilities (or their spouses and children do) and the whole family was covered. He also has friends who have been unable to get work in their field of expertise because they had a pre-existing condition and the only cover offered in that area of work excluded it and they couldn’t afford to pay.

Everybody’s situation is different. Everybody’s employer is different. The cover offered by each employer is different.

It’s still a s**t system as far as I am concerned. God bless America.

1 Like

Personally - and I know this is unpalatable for someone who wants to conquer the world! - I would not dream of moving to the USA, or any other country that does not have socialised healthcare. Not with MS. Not when you are doing well on a treatment that requires monthly hospital attendance. No way. Even if there are possible solutions - via the hope of adequate insurance from a potential hoped-for employer, that might or might not cover a pre-existing medication need - that would not give me solid confidence that I would have adequate and affordable healthcare.

MS sucks. It closes doors. It forces us to make compromises against our will; compromises than break our hearts. Some we can fight, others defeat us. I admire your fighting spirit and I wish you well. Maybe you can make it work. Just please be realistic about what it might mean.

1 Like

This is what’s seriously scaring me.

Unsurprisingly, I’ve heard this a lot. I may well have to make compromises. Though, I’ll keep searching for a loophole wherever I can.

Thank you

1 Like

Eyes wide open then :slight_smile:

Good luck with your loophole!

1 Like

Anything to make our collective lives easier Angela :slight_smile:

1 Like

As ever, Boblatina is right (about teaching in a US University).

First, all the ranks are different:
US Assistant Professor is a UK Lecturer, and so on.

Then, the standards are different:
A US BA/BSc (BS) is a very wide course, and generally, Psychology (say) is a bit lower than UK A-level. The student would be expected to start an acquaintanceship with a foreign language, and take a wide range of courses (a nephew, at a prestigeous Californian Private University took a course in Golf for example.
There is too much “cut-and-paste” in coursework - at least one Cal-State Uni required a final essay to be hand-written before the student could graduate.

Graduate teachers are usually given the title of “Instructor”, or “Teaching Assistant”. Yes, they get paid peanuts, but it does go on their CV, and can be seen a willingness to play the academic game.
A US Professor (any rank) is on a 9 month contract, paid over 12 months. That gives them 3 months in which they can do research (ideally for publication) or teach in Summer School (for extra money) - their choice.

Different world, different standards, different ways.


At the last UK uni I was at (I was doing an MSc) the PhD students were paid to be ‘demonstrators’ which had associated teaching duties. I guess there are many titles given for this role.

Yup. I was an Academic Tutor in my department (small group teaching). At the same time I was a Teaching Assistant in my department (larger group - course intakes were smaller in the early '90s). At the same time, I was an Academic Advisor in the Uni Computer Unit (Wednesday afternoons only) and all this whilst registered as an MPhil candidate (prior to upgrading to PhD student).

At one point, the girl who was teaching on a health psychology course (but without Lecturer status) was taken ill, and all the PhD students agreed to cover for her. I ended up doing the Abnormal Psychology lecture to a class of 70 nurses.

All good fun …