Health Insurance and Cancer

As if dealing with cancer wasn’t enough, cancer and mesothelioma patients also need to face the financial repercussions of a cancer diagnosis. Even when a patient has health insurance, the cost of a cancer diagnosis can really add up, depending on deductibles and co-pays. Here is some information about how to deal with the costs of cancer.

Your Finances and Cancer

In addition to the physical and emotional strains of cancer, patients also need to cope with the expenses of cancer treatment and care, which can be overwhelming. In addition to the cost of cancer treatment, some possible financial concerns cancer patients may face include:

  • Lost wages: These days, finding a way to pay for household bills and the costs of everyday living can be intimidating for anyone, and even more so for cancer patients who are no longer able to work. Additionally, some spouses of cancer patients need to miss or leave work to attend treatment appointments and doctor visits, or to care for their partner at home. It’s a good idea for cancer patients and their families to have an honest discussion about their finances and to adjust budgets as needed to accommodate for lost wages.
  • Travel: Often, the best cancer center for a particular type of cancer is not near that patient’s home. For instance, mesothelioma is a rare type of cancer, so there may not be a mesothelioma expert or treatment center in a patient’s home area. Airfare, gas, food and lodging can be expensive, especially when the patient and/or caregiver need to be relocated for an extended amount of time.
  • The cost of care: In many cases, the spouse or family caregiver for a cancer patient needs to return to work to make ends meet. When this happens, many patients require in-home help for things like bathing, cooking, dispensing medications, and just tidying up. Some insurance plans may cover these expenses: check with your insurance agent to learn whether you are covered for this or not.

Insurance has Limitations

Every health insurance plan is different, and just because you have health insurance does not necessarily mean that you will not need to pay for the costs of cancer treatment and care. While health insurance can help deflect the bulk of cancer bills, most patients need to contribute to the cost of care. Some expenses that a cancer patient may be responsible for include:

  • Medications: Some drugs may not be on the patient’s insurance formulary, or may cost more than that patient’s usual prescriptions
  • Deductibles
  • Out-of-network costs: These costs may have a different deductible than regular care
  • Treatment limitations based on pre-existing conditions
  • Procedures or treatments not covered by the patient’s insurance plan
  • Costs that exceed the insurance company’s lifetime maximum

More than 40 million Americans are without any type of health insurance, so the financial burden of cancer care may be even higher for them. Still, there are programs and financial assistance available to help all cancer patients get the care they need.

Help with Paying for Cancer Care

There are a number of foundations and organizations that can help cancer patients find financial assistance for paying for treatments and care. If you are faced with the burden of paying for costly cancer care, you may want to contact the following organizations:

  • The National Cancer Institute
  • Medicare
  • Medicaid
  • State Children’s Health Insurance program
  • CancerCare
  • Patient Advocate Foundation
  • Hill-Burton Program

The bottom line is this: while cancer treatment and care can be very expensive, there are ways to ensure that all patients get the care they need. If you are overwhelmed by the prospect of paying for your care, it may be a good idea to enlist the help of a friend or family member to navigate the system.

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