Once you get hit with a cancer diagnosis, you have to figure out the best strategy for financing it as well as for fighting it. Even if you do have health insurance, and especially if you don’t, costs for treatment and other practical issues can be beyond overwhelming. The good news is that there are a lot of resources that can help. Following are some helpful ideas and resources:
1. Clinical Trials – If you can get in on a clinical trial, you (or your insurance company) will likely be responsible for paying for routine costs, such as doctor visits. But the organization sponsoring the clinical trial will often cover costs for trial-specific tests and analysis. Just be sure you are clear about who is responsible for what costs before signing on for a trial. The National Cancer Institute has some good information on its website, a does the American Cancer Society.
2. State Programs – Each state has different programs with varying benefits and eligibility requirements. For example, the Indiana Comprehensive Health Insurance Association offers an option to residents of Indiana who experience problems in obtaining or keeping health insurance due to a medical condition or other qualifying condition. The program offers health benefits including physician services, mental health services, prescription drug coverage and hospital care.
3. Federal Programs – The Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan makes health insurance available to people who have had a problem getting insurance because of a pre-existing condition. It doesn’t charge a higher premium just because of your condition and it doesn't base eligibility on income.
4. Talk to your doctors – Be honest about your situation. Some will reduce their fees. If you tell them how much you can afford to pay per month, certain doctors may be receptive to such an arrangement. Even a small payment will show a willingness to pay and perhaps keep the collection agents from the door.
5. Cancer Support Organizations – Organizations such as the American Cancer Society offer a wealth of information that can help. The American Cancer Society has a comprehensive section about strategizing your financial plan of attack.
6. Hospital Social Workers – They often can give you an insider’s perspective into local resources and groups that can provide financial assistance. They can also help with the smaller costs that add up, such as parking fees. Ask for a parking pass, you just might get one.
7. Set Up A Donation Website – One WhatNexter shared this idea with us – set up a website so people can donate money to help support your cancer fight. This person suggested GiveForward. She used this for her sister, who is battling uterine cancer. She raised $4,000 to meet her goal for food, childcare (for her daughter) airfare, to stay with family for a month to care for her. For people who want to help, but don’t know how – this is one way to do it .
8. Don’t Be Afraid To Ask – Money is a touchy thing, but when you are fighting for your life, just let people know what you need and ask them for help. Even if they can’t personally help with the cash, they may be able to set up fundraisers and research other resources on your behalf.
9. Foundations – There are foundations that provide financial support to those fighting cancer. Thanks to the WhatNext-er who told us about Healthwell. It’s a foundation for individuals with insurance, who cannot afford their copayments, coinsurance, and premiums for important medical treatments. To research other foundations, you can visit The Foundation Center.
We hope some of these tips can be of value to you. Do you know of other resources or ideas that can help? Please share in the comments section below.