Managing the Finances of Cancer
It is truly not fair that having cancer is so expensive. Many people are already living paycheck to paycheck, and adding medical costs (co-pays, deductibles, over the counter drugs, etc.) and associated costs (parking fees, more gasoline, childcare, more take out food, etc.) to a likely reduced income can be extremely difficult. Yesterday, for example, one of our doctors came into my office to ask if there were a way to cover the day's parking fee for a new patient, a disabled vet who had admitted that he had only two dollars in his wallet. One of my colleagues asked for help from our Patient Needs Fund (also covered that parking) to help buy groceries for a family whose earner is in the hospital, and they are trying to live on ZERO income. Another patient told me that she had cancelled her treatment appointment because she can't pay the high co-pay required for the drugs.
This is a huge and growing problem across the country, and I surely don't have easy solutions. Wherever you receive your treatment, ask if there is an oncology social worker who can connect you with the available resources. Here are a few online suggestions.
First from the Cancer Support Community. Follow the link to read more and be sure to scroll all the way down for a list of resources that you can download.
Managing the Cost of Cancer Care - Where do I begin?
Choosing Someone to Coordinate the Financial Costs Associated with your Cancer Care
The very first question you should ask about managing the financial aspects of cancer is: “Am I able to coordinate the financial piece of my cancer care right now?” If you answer “No,” perhaps you can ask a friend or family member to do this for you. If you feel there is not a friend or family member who can help you, ask your doctor to refer you to an oncology social worker or to a nonprofit organization for help managing financial issues. Many people diagnosed with cancer ask someone else to keep up with the financial aspects of care. The key is that someone must address these issues.
Until now, it has been difficult to find one place where people affected by cancer could learn about practical matters such as insurance coverage, Medicare and Medicaid, co-pay assistance, Patient Assistance Programs, Social Security and other resources to help manage cancer-related finances. Our goal is to provide a road map to the financial side of the cancer experience.
Cancer Care has just published a new booklet, and has internal funds that sometimes help. Here is the link to their page about this: http://www.cancercare.org/financial
And here is a brand new resource for people with Stage III or IV lung cancer:
Cancer Support Community in partnership with the Lung Cancer Alliance announces a Travel Assistance Grant (TAG) Fund for people with advanced stage (IIIB or IV) lung cancer. Qualified applicants receive a $200 prepaid gas card to help ease the burden of driving to and from treatments. For more information about this program patients can call the CSC Helpline at 888 793-9355.