Surviving cancer often comes with a price tag that many people cannot afford. Thankfully, there are resources and methods available to navigate the financial implications of the disease.
As cancer survival rates rise, so do the price tags associated with treatment. While it seems that all medical care is expensive, cancer patients are paying an average of $150,000 per case. At four times the cost of other health conditions, cancer patients are experiencing financial burdens like never before. In fact, a 2018 study found that 42% of patients receiving treatment depleted all of their assets within two years of diagnosis. With treatment being the only option for survival, many patients are left wondering how to lessen the financial burden of cancer.
While cancer treatment will be expensive no matter what, there are ways to obtain support and lessen the burden. One of the first things patients should do is contact the cancer helpline at 1-800-227-2345. The hotline operator can provide extremely useful information about programs that aim to lessen the financial burden. These programs include free accommodation during treatment at the Hope Lodge and rides to and from appointments with the Road to Recovery program.
When a patient learns about the various programs available to them, it can also be beneficial to speak directly to the care team to discuss options. Though they may not be able to give concrete figures right away, the team should be able to give a general estimate as to how much the treatment will cost and whether insurance providers are likely to cover the treatment. Patients should also discuss the projected copays or deductibles associated with the treatment, as it varies depending on the insurance coverage. Most care teams will be willing to offer additional options or financial arrangements that rely on payment over time rather than demanding a large upfront payment. If financial arrangements are not available, or treatment seems to be unfeasible for other financial reasons, patients are encouraged to speak to their care team about whether there are alternative treatments available. It is important to ask about the potential benefits, risks, and costs of each alternative treatment option.
As the number of oncology researchers grows, there is an increasing number of clinical trials available for cancer patients. Clinical trials are the final step in a long process that begins with research in a lab. Before any new treatment is used on people in clinical trials, researchers work for many years to understand its effects on cancer cells in the lab and in animals. They also try to determine the side effects it may cause. Once ready to be tested in humans, the costs associated with clinical trials are often paid for by the research team or covered by insurance. The treatment in clinical trials is not always effective, making this option somewhat of a gamble.
Cancer brings about many difficulties, and unfortunately the financial burden is one of the major complications. Luckily, there are many options, resources, and programs available to assist in lessening the financial burden. For those struggling to fund treatment, it is strongly encouraged to speak to the care team about available options. For those feeling overwhelmed, there are many free resources available for support such as Mental Health America.
If you are weighing your treatment options and would like a second opinion, NFCR’s Cancer Patient Navigation Hotline can assist you. Get started here.
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