Cancer care is a huge expense in the United States and continues to grow every year. Recent reports estimate the country will spend at least $173 billion on cancer care in 2020. Currently, a typical cancer drug alone is estimated to cost upwards of $120,000 annually, which is also expected to rise by as much as 10.5% each year through 2020.
Mesothelioma is an expensive disease to treat, on top of all the additional costs like travel or long-term lodging that accompany such a diagnosis. Considering the average American family has an annual income of around $52,000, it’s clear the financial strain can quickly become a large burden after diagnosis.
But there is help. Families facing a mesothelioma diagnosis will have many obstacles ahead, but there are options available to help alleviate the financial strains and shift the focus back on what’s most important: fighting the disease.
Understanding Health Insurance
Studies have shown the majority of Americans don’t understand much about how health insurance works, particularly what costs they can expect to take on out-of-pocket. Not understanding your coverage can result in receiving an unexpected large medical bill and uncertainty of how to pay it.
There’s a lot of variation in what plans will cover, regardless of if the plan is through a private agency or a government program. In general, plans will cover basic services like checkups, preventive care, and prescriptions. Many plans operate by an “in” or “out-of-network” system, where patients need to visit doctors or hospitals in network to avoid paying more for service. Out-of-pocket expenses will vary based on the deductible, co-pay or coinsurance of an individual plan, which is an aspect of healthcare many Americans don’t understand.
|Health Insurance Basics|
|Premium: The amount of money you pay for an insurance policy|
Deductible: The amount of money you pay for eligible medical services before the insurer will take over costs.
Copay: A fixed amount of money you pay each time for a doctor’s visit or a fill of a prescription at the time of service.
Coinsurance: A portion or percentage of healthcare costs you pay when your health insurance begins. If you have a 20% coinsurance, for example, you would pay 20% of your medical bill and the insurer would pay 80%.
These basics will help you understand the out-of-pocket expenses you can expect throughout treatment. Luckily, most plans today have a maximum amount for what patients can be required to pay out-of-pocket, which can help keep the medical bills a bit more reasonable.
You should also keep in mind you can appeal an insurance company’s decision to deny coverage for certain services. Even if you don’t need to seek an appeal, it’s a good idea to keep records of all your medical bills and reimbursements, as well as any services your insurance plan wouldn’t cover.
Assistance Paying for Treatment
Cancer treatment is the main source of rising costs in cancer care. Researchers show drug costs have increased from $5,000- $10,000 for a year of treatment to over $100,000 just within a decade. Studies have shown these unattainable cost have led many patients to delay their treatment or take less than the recommended dosage to try to cut costs. Delaying or skipping treatment entirely can have a severe impact on their prognosis.
For many patients, insurance still isn’t enough to cover all of their treatment costs. On average, patients who have insurance can still spend upwards of 20% out-of-pocket for the cancer drugs in their treatment plans. Fortunately, there are other services available to help cover the cost of these expensive treatments.
Partnership for Prescription Assistance (PPA)
PPA is a free resource that can direct patients to over 400 participating programs and organizations that offer prescription assistance for a wide variety of medicines.
Patient Access Network (PAN) Foundation
The PAN Foundation is dedicated to helping underinsured patients facing rare and life-threatening diseases pay for their out-of-pocket medical expenses.
NeedyMeds helps patients find programs they’re eligible for to receive financial assistance for medication and other healthcare costs.
Patients and their families spend millions of dollars each year on travel and lodging for their appointments. For many mesothelioma patients, it can be difficult to find a mesothelioma specialist located close to home. This can mean a lot of back-and-forth travel for various appointments and scans, and even treatment.
There are various programs and organizations that offer free or reduced travel for cancer patients. Each have their own eligibility requirements, so be sure to research your options to find what may be a fit for your needs.
Corporate Angel Network
This organization provides free flights to cancer patients traveling for treatment using empty seats on corporate or private planes.
Air Charity Network
Volunteer pilots offer services all around the country for patients facing a wide range of medical situations. Patients can receive free flights to distant medical facilities for their treatment.
A network of volunteer pilots will fly patients in financial need to their medical facility for diagnostic needs, ongoing treatment and follow-up care.
Finding affordable long-term lodging while patients undergo treatment can be extremely stressful. Patients and their loved ones shouldn’t have to be separated during treatment because of cost. Luckily, there are various lodging options for patients and their families based on their individual needs.
Many hospitals and cancer clinics offer their own solutions to traveling families, whether it’s a partnership with neighboring hotels for a reduced rate or their own hospitality housing. Requirements and available accommodations will vary, so be sure to discuss your options with a hospital social worker. Patients may also seek assistance from outside organizations that offer their own free or reduced lodging options.
The American Cancer Society created the Hope Lodge program to provide free lodging for patients and their caregivers in a comfortable, homey environment. There are currently 32 lodges throughout the country and Puerto Rico with more in construction.
Healthcare Hospitality Network
HHN offers free or reduced lodging for patients and their families at nearly 200 member facilities, whether they be small houses or hotel-like settings. Hospitality houses provide private rooms as well as common areas to create a sense of support and community.
Joe’s House is a nonprofit resource helping patients and their families find reduced lodging during medical treatment. Patients can search their partner network based on rate or proximity to their medical facility.
More Options for Mesothelioma Patients
In addition to these organizations that offer financial assistance, mesothelioma patients may be eligible for other kinds of compensation. Asbestos victims may be able to receive compensation through lawsuits, asbestos bankruptcy trust funds, or veterans benefits depending on their individual case.
Get a free case evaluation to learn more about your rights and what options may be available for you.