YOU’LL SURVIVE THE CANCER – WILL YOUR WALLET SURVIVE THE COST?
Hello everyone and welcome to another #Wellness Wednesday. Today I’m sharing a Guest Blog I wrote for my great friends at I Had Cancer. It’s all about surviving the cost of cancer, which can loom large long after the cancer is gone.
Cancer is hard. It takes guts, dedication and resilience to overcome. We have to fight every day. Yet long after the cancer is gone – the medical bills can remain. And, this problem does not discriminate. Those with insurance and income may face the same financial problems as those without insurance and income.
In fact, as of ten years ago, 80 percent of those families who declared bankruptcy wholly or in part due to medical bills had health insurance. And, last year medical debt became the leading cause of personal bankruptcy in America.
So, let’s do everything we can to make sure our cancer experience isn’t made any more difficult by the financial matters that surround it.
12 WAYS TO HELP YOU AVOID A FINANCIAL MELTDOWN DURING CANCER:
- Find out which hospitals in your area serve the uninsured, the underinsured or the indigent. Public hospitals as well as some non-profits provide a safety net for those who need care, regardless of their ability to pay. Your physician can steer you in the right direction.
- Once this is done, ask to speak with the hospital Social Worker. This person is usually the most knowledgeable about support sources in your community and she or he will become your new Best Friend.
- Ask for medications to be in pill form if possible. These are usually cheaper.
- Ask for the generic form of any medication. These also will be cheaper.
- Before trying a new medication, ask for a sample. If it does not agree with you or work for you, you won’t be billed as you would for a full prescription.
- Take advantage of Medicine Assistance Programs. Many pharmaceutical companies have set up programs to help patients get the medicine they need at low cost or no cost. Similarly, ask your Social Worker to contact programs that offer free services for cancer patients like transportation, dog walking or house cleaning.
- Check hospital bills CAREFULLY. Request an itemized bill for all expenses from all facilities. Each expense will be listed separately. You don’t want to pay for a whole bottle of aspirin when you only took 3. You don’t want to pay for that box of Kleenex in your room if you don’t use it. You don’t want to pay for a CT-Scan that was scheduled but later cancelled.
- Ask to set up a Payment Plan with your hospital. Budget your cancer care as you would your groceries. Your hospital Social Worker or a Credit Counselor can help you do this.
- Ask your doctor about Clinical Trials. You may qualify for one and the cost is usually paid for by donors, foundations and research facilities.
- Some cancers get special treatment. For example, if you have Breast or Cervical Cancer the state may pay for your treatment through the National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program. Check with your healthcare provider or Social Worker about your specific cancer.
- Hospitals built with federal funds are required under the Hill-Burton Hospital Program to provide some services to cancer patients who can’t afford to pay for their care. Your hospital may be one of these.
- Look for Grants. They do exist. Cancer.net, CancerCare.org, managecancer.org and your Social Worker can link you to resources that offer financial help.
Of course, this is just the tip of the iceberg. But, attention to these details can result in big differences. And, please contact your trusted Social Worker or your primary care physician with questions about additional issues, including federal and state programs, Insurance Policies, Social Security or the Americans with Disabilities Act.
As cancer patients, our job is to get better. Let’s not just kick the cancer, let’s kick the cost as well!
I know these tips helped me survive the cost of cancer. I hope they’ll prove helpful for you too! With many thanks to I HAD CANCER for publishing this article.
Thanks for joining me everyone! Until next time, stay in GOOD HEALTH and . . .
Reprinted and Revised from I HAD CANCER, October 20, 2016.