The costs of cancer care and treatment can often become overwhelming. Even with health insurance, many cancer patients find themselves stuck with medical debt, payment plans, or having to pay for treatment out of pocket. But, the financial cost of cancer doesn’t have to be a burden. There are resources, tools, and help available. Let’s talk about it.
Factors that Affect The Financial Cost of Cancer
The cost of cancer will look different for each patient.
For example, you may have personal costs like:
- Travel expenses
- Living expenses
- & more
Because of these factors, along with other factors like the type of cancer treatment, length, and location — it’s easy to see how quickly costs can add up.
There are also some hidden costs of cancer. For example, while going through cancer treatment, you may not be able to work, or you may have to work fewer days. With this added burden these additional costs can be detrimental to your budget.
These factors play a considerable role in the financial cost of cancer and can stress out even the most prepared person. But there are ways to lower these costs and save money.
Learn More About Your Insurance
Insurance will play a key role in what is paid for during cancer treatment and what costs are your responsibility. Before starting any treatment, it’s essential to contact your insurance company, know your deductible, co-pays, or co-insurance, and what treatments, plans, or even trials may be covered. Sometimes, your medical benefits package doesn’t make costs clear. Instead, a well-versed representative with your plan can give you better and easier to understand information.
If your insurance company doesn’t pay a claim after you’ve requested for them to pay, you are well within your right to question their decision. It is within your rights to appeal their decision, which can save you hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars.
Ask How Much Treatment Will Cost
Did you know that hospitals and offices have to be transparent about the cost of your treatment? In fact, this new law, signed in 2019, states that as a patient, you have the right to know the cost of treatment upfront. That way, you can shop around, negotiate, or connect and agree with your insurance on who will cover the costs.
Also, get your cost of care plan in writing. That way, when you’ve made your decision, you’ll get your treatment for the price that you agreed on.
Ask Other Cost Related Questions
There are many questions that you should ask to make sure you’re not overspending on care. While it can be easy to become overwhelmed with questions, especially when dealing with your illness, these questions can save you a lot of stress and energy.
Cancer.net has many great questions that you have a right to ask as a patient, but here are a few to get started with:
- How much is my co-pay for each doctor visit?
- If I need multiple visits to a doctor’s office, can I get a waiver to pay the co-pay only once or not at all?
- Are there any payment plans?
- Will I be billed separately for laboratory tests, such as blood tests? What is covered under my insurance?
- If I cannot afford treatment, are there other treatment options that do not cost as much?
- Is the treatment center I’m going to in my insurance plan’s network?
- Will there be a co-pay for each individual treatment?
- Where can I get free or low-cost support and counseling?
Of course, there are many other questions that you can ask. But overall, the biggest goal is to make sure you’re not put in a stressful financial position because you didn’t think to ask.
Don’t Be Afraid To Advocate For Yourself
It can be hard to know exactly the questions to ask, when, and how to make sure your needs are heard and met. But, as a patient, it’s important to know that you have the right to receive treatment and advocate for yourself.
Luckily, there are many programs that help, and some are completely free to use. For example, the Patient Advocate Foundation has case managers who can guide you on medical bills and even speak on your behalf when it comes to negotiating them.
Sometimes, we can’t do it all ourselves. That’s where social services and aid programs come in.
LawHelp.org can refer you to low-cost and free legal aid programs in your area. These services will help you and advise on your financial matters, so you know the best options for yourself.
Triagecancer.org offers free materials and resources that help you navigate the legalities of your cancer diagnosis.
There are many federal and state government support programs that you may be eligible for. Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid can help you with treatment costs if you are low-income or disabled. You can find out if you’re eligible and apply easily online.
CancerCare’s Online Helping Hand is an online listing directory of financial and support programs for cancer patients. No matter your needs, you can search for programs by diagnosis, zip code, or the type of assistance you need.
Last but not least, The HealthWellFoundation is a non-profit organization that helps patients afford their medications for life-altering diseases when health insurance doesn’t cover them.
There are many other resources as well, but these options are a great place to start.
The Financial Cost Of Cancer
Remember, you are not alone. And you don’t have to have all of your medical bills and costs figured out. As of right now, your most important focus should be your health and wellness.
That is why leaning on a support system and utilizing social services is so important.
We can’t do everything ourselves, but we can ask for help, and there is no shame in that.
Our team is comprised of Bob and Linda Carey, our advisors and volunteers. Without them, changing lives one smile at a time would never be possible!