Financial Help for Cancer Patients

Community // March 21, 2018

After a cancer diagnosis, patients and their loved ones have many decisions to make about treatment and next steps. But for many, it’s not as simple as just wanting to receive the best care possible. With the rising costs of cancer care, studies have found that many cancer patients are delaying or skipping treatment entirely or taking less than they are prescribed. It’s no secret that the cost of cancer care continues to rise each year, making it difficult for cancer patients to afford treatment on top of their every day bills.

Fortunately, there are many organizations and programs available to help patients offset the financial burden and be able to just focus on their health. These programs can help patients cover the high costs of treatment and other associated expenses, as well as help manage the everyday household bills.

Financial Help With Treatment-Related Costs

Patients may be eligible for help through a variety of programs depending on their specific needs. One of the best ways to find financial assistance and help manage treatment expenses is to talk about your options with your medical team and social worker. Your doctor may be able to explain treatment options with similar results at a lesser cost. Your social worker may be able to suggest some programs or grants you may be eligible for and help you plan financially.

Even for patients who have health insurance, it can still be difficult to afford the high costs of treatment. Chemotherapy, for instance, can cost $50,000 or more for just one round of treatment. For many patients it can be difficult to even handle their deductible or balance their co-pays on top of all their other expenses. There are several organizations that have developed co-pay relief programs to help cover co-pays for patients who are struggling to afford these out-of-pocket expenses, like CancerCare’s Co-Payment Assistance Foundation and HealthWell Foundation. Programs like this can help eligible patients manage co-payments, co-insurance and deductible costs without sacrificing quality of care.

Talk to someone about your financial options

Patients may also be able to find assistance programs that partially or fully cover the costs of certain prescription drugs and medications. Partnership for Prescription Assistance and NeedyMeds are just two resources that can help patients connect with hundreds of programs that may be available to cover these out-of-pocket medical expenses.

Many patients and their family members also have secondary expenses related to treatment like travel and lodging. In the case of mesothelioma, it can be difficult to find specialists locally for most patients. Travel, as well as long-term lodging, can become expensive very quickly. Many national and local cancer organizations have programs in place to provide help with both travel and lodging for eligible patients. The American Cancer Society, for instance, offers housing through their Hope Lodges located throughout the country, and also has a Road to Recovery program to get patients to appointments more easily. Many hospitals and treatment centers also have associations with nearby hotels or may offer their own hospitality housing for cancer patients’ families.

For patients with rare diseases like mesothelioma, the National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD) also offers a variety of patient assistance programs to ensure patients are able to afford the best health care possible. NORD has a medication assistance program to provide drugs at no cost to eligible patients, insurance premiums and co-pay relief programs, as well as travel and lodging assistance for clinical trials.

Financial Assistance with Household Bills

Life and the normal expenses that come with it don’t slow down for cancer. While many patients struggle to keep up with paying for cancer treatment, even affording the normal bills for food or electric can be difficult to mange. There are various financial assistance programs that can help provide coverage for normal daily living expenses.

Patients who are considered to have a low income household may consider seeking assistance through government programs, like the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) to cover the cost of utilities. State and local communities may also offer similar benefits programs that can help lower income households, so patients should be sure to discuss with their social worker about the potential for these support services.

Local non-profit organizations and charities like the United Way may be able to offer financial aid for low income patients themselves or make connections with other options that may be available. The Cancer Financial Assistance Coalition, made up of 15 member organizations like the Patient Access Network Foundation and NORD, is another resource that can help patients find assistance programs in their communities. The coalition can connect patients with a variety of programs to cover needs ranging from financial help with medical and household bills, meal delivery, transportation, lodging and more.

More Options for Mesothelioma Patients

Given the nature of asbestos exposure, mesothelioma patients may also be eligible to receive financial compensation to help cover their expensive treatments and related expenses. Asbestos victims have legal rights against the companies responsible for the exposure that ultimately led to their diagnosis.

Though it may seem overwhelming to pursue legal action while undergoing treatment, filing a mesothelioma claim can secure a patient’s financial future and ensure they can afford the best care possible. Talk to someone about your individual case to determine what other financial assistance might be available.