Paying For Cancer Treatment | Sheena Gurai, PharmD | RxEconsult

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Paying For Cancer Treatment Category: Cancer by - February 3, 2014 | Views: 4037 | Likes: 3 | Comment: 0  

Cutting Cost of Cancer Care

One of the most challenging aspects of treating cancer is the enormous cost of care. A 2013 study from the Hutchinson Cancer Research Center found that people diagnosed with cancer are more than 2.5 times more likely to declare bankruptcy than those without cancer. Fortunately, there is ample information about cancer-associated costs and financial support to help deal with this financial burden. Here is a list of resources to help pay for cancer treatment.  

What are the Costs of Cancer Care

Knowing what costs to expect is a big part of the battle. While most may think that medications are the biggest cost, there are a variety of additional costs that cancer patients must face. Cancer.net delves into the specifics of cancer-related costs, including:

  • Doctor appointments
  • Cancer treatment
  • Medication
  • Transportation and travel
  • Family and living expenses
  • Caregiving, at-home care, and long-term care
  • Employment, legal, and financial issues

Social Worker Support

As savvy as one may be with internet searches for financial resources, having the support of a qualified social worker can help significantly when dealing with cancer. Speaking to someone, one-on-one, to provide you with financial resources specific to you will help you focus on getting healthy. 

Hospital social workers provide patients with resources for assistance programs to cover treatment and other costs. They assist with finding free or low-cost services for low-income families through various government funded programs. 

Most cancer-related non-profit organizations also provide social workers, so be sure to look out for those offers on the sites. The following are just some sites offering these services:

  • CancerCare provides social workers that assist patients in finding financial support both through their program, as well as outside sources.
  • Patient Advocate Foundation provides patients with case managers, who can help with finding resources and dealing with denied insurance claims.   

Private Insurance

Before the Affordable Care Act, even patients with insurance coverage were still at risk for bankruptcy due to yearly or lifetime limits to coverage, denied claims, and loss of coverage due to job losses. Further, when looking for new plans, many patients were being denied coverage due to pre-existing conditions. However, under the new regulations, there are many ways patients are protected, especially those with cancer. Among other changes, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) requires that:

  • Health plans can no longer deny coverage due to pre-existing conditions such as cancer.
  • Health plans cannot cancel coverage when you become ill.
  • Health plans cannot have yearly or lifetime dollar limits on the amount of coverage.

ACA requires everyone to be covered by some type of health insurance (or pay a penalty), so cancer patients will have the chance to be covered for their healthcare. For coverage plans, visit:

            HealthCare.gov OR GetCoveredAmerica.org; or call 1-800-318-2596.

For more information about health insurance coverage, as well as how the ACA impacts cancer patients, visit the American Cancer Society’s website, “Health Insurance and Financial Assistance for the Cancer Patient.”

To learn about the types of insurance, and differences in coverage, visit: Cancer.net.

Government Aid

The government funds various health insurance programs that may benefit families with low incomes, or people 65 years of age or more. If patients qualify, these programs may pay for prevention, detection, as well as treatment of cancer. For more information visit:

While many cancer patients are not considered disabled, there may be some with advanced stages of cancer that are considered disabled under the Social Security Administration. If qualified, you may receive some financial support. To find out, visit:

Non-Profit Organizations

There are many not-for-profit organizations that provide information and financial support for cancer. There are both general cancer groups, such as the American Cancer Society, and specific cancer-type groups, such as the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, that provide excellent resources. Sites may provide financial aid programs, co-pay assistance programs, and information on additional financial resources. Check out:

Search for a non-profit organization that provides financial support options or resources for your cancer type.  There are many grants and assistance programs available to patients!

Support from Pharmaceutical Companies

Drug manufacturers often provide some type of financial support or services to patients, such as help with insurance reimbursement, referrals to co-pay relief programs, and discounted or free medications through pharmaceutical patient assistance programs. These support resources may be found through the pharmaceutical company’s website or by searching through the drug product’s website. 

In addition, the Partnership for Prescription Assistance (PPA) program helps consumers find both public and private patient assistance programs.  Sign up today at:

www.pparx.org or call 888-4-PPA-NOW (888-477-2669).

Other Assistance

In addition to support for treatment costs there are various organizations that provide practical support, such as transportation, cost-of-living expenses, household chores, and wigs. Contact local religious/faith-based organizations or search through the phonebook for “social support.” Many national organizations are also able to provide resources for cancer related services. Visit:

As you begin to cope with the diagnosis of cancer, don’t let financial matters overwhelm your ability to focus on beating it. There are ample financial resources that help you pay for your cancer treatment and provide you with some level of financial stability through this very difficult time.

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