As the media often report, and as patients themselves can attest, the cost of having cancer is extremely high. A recent industry report found that the average brand-name cancer drug in the U.S. costs ,000 for a month’s supply – and that’s not to mention the cost for doctor visits, tests, hospital stays, etc. In addition, many people are unable to work while being treated for cancer, adding to the financial burden. And though the Affordable Care Act puts limits on the amount of money patients have to spend every year for their medical care, treating cancer can be financially devastating.
Though most are aware of the financial burden of cancer, many are not aware of the resources available for patients in need of financial assistance. Here are a few:
Government programs: Every state has a Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program that provides care for people who are uninsured, low-income, and in need of treatment. State-specific information can be found at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Private organizations: Many private community and advocacy groups offer resources and financial help for patients who need assistance paying their insurance premiums, co-pays, and coinsurance. In some cases, you can also get help paying for prescription drugs and therapies, as well as rent, food, child care, and other daily living expenses.
Here are a few sources to explore:
- The Leukemia and Lymphoma Cancer Society
- The Cancer Financial Assistance Coalition
- The American Cancer Society’s National Cancer Information Center
- The HealthWell Foundation. The organization also recently launched an Emergency Cancer Relief Fund.
- The Patient Network Access Foundation
- RxHope for free or low-cost medications
Help with Travel: If you need to travel for treatment, there are organizations that can help you, says Kristen Reineke of CancerInsurance.com, a web-based marketplace for cancer and critical illness insurance.
Two such organizations include:
- Corporate Angel Network, which arranges free flights for cancer patients using empty seats on corporate jets.
- Angel Airline Samaritans, which facilitates no-cost or reduced-rate commercial airline tickets for needy cancer patients and their families.
In addition, the American Cancer Society’s Hope Lodge offers cancer patients and their caregivers a free place to stay when traveling and receiving treatment in another city.
Income replacement: Studies have shown that the majority of cancer patients stop working during their initial treatment and can be out of work for long stretches, causing a loss of income just as medical expenses begin to climb.
Five states — California, New York, New Jersey, Rhode Island, and Hawaii — offer a temporary disability program that allows people to draw on benefits for up to a year to help offset income loss.
In addition, Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income are available to help replace lost income. Go to the Social Security Disability web site for more information.
What resources have you drawn on to help you through cancer treatment? Please share your experience in the comments section.