Even if you have amazing insurance and money in the bank, cancer treatments and everything that goes along with them can wreak financial havoc. You have to consider medications and procedures; costs associated with travel to and from treatments such as gas, parking and perhaps meals or lodging; and the potential loss of income due to time away from your job.
Keeping a positive outlook and focusing on your health are essential right now, but the stress, strain and anxiety of this added worry can understandably take a toll on you. These tips and resources can help you keep your head above water.
Understand Your Insurance
Every insurance provider and policy is different. Having a clear understanding of your health insurance, such as your deductible, copays and network coverage can ease your mind and give you a better idea of what your next step should be.
Contact your insurance provider to ask about specific coverage. Ask if you can connect with an insurance case manager while you have cancer or contact the American Cancer Society’s Health Insurance Assistance Service at 800-227-2345.
Seek Free or Discounted Options
You may need certain equipment or other items during and after treatment but find the costs prohibitive. Check with your health insurance provider first, as many will cover necessities such as wigs or hats, nutritional supplements and DME (durable medical equipment, e.g. walkers or wheelchairs).
If they do not cover these costs, contact your local branch of organizations such as the American Cancer Society or Susan G. Komen for the Cure. If they are not able to give or loan you the items you need, chances are good that they can direct you to someone who can help.
Consider Applying for Disability
When cancer causes you to miss a great deal of work, your income can suffer. Talk to your HR department to see if you have short- or long-term disability benefits. If you will be out of work for at least 12 months or have a qualifying type of cancer, you may also be eligible for disability benefits through the Social Security Administration.
Apply for Drug Assistance
Pharmaceutical companies typically offer patient assistance programs. Although they all have their own set of requirements, they are definitely worth checking into. These can be especially beneficial if you don’t have prescription coverage or your insurance does not cover the medication you need; you do not qualify for government assistance that would pay for the medication; or the cost of a prescription would cause you financial hardship. Ask your doctor to help you file for this type of aid.
Reach Out to Your Team
Along with assisting you in applying for assistance with prescription drugs, your doctor and other members of your oncology team can help refer you to financial resources as well as support services available. Your social worker, case manager, nurses and doctors are there to help shoulder all of the burdens related to your health on the road to wellness.