The financial costs associated with cancer are often overwhelming. Even with health insurance, many families are left looking for financial help. Start researching your options before a financial crisis develops and always keep an open discussion with your doctor about cancer costs.
Government Financial Help for Cancer Patients
There are a number of federal and state programs that may provide financial help to individuals and families. While most government assistance programs are set up for low-income households, each has unique eligibility requirements so check to see if you qualify.
- Social Security
- Medicare & Medicaid
- Department of Health & Human Services
- U.S. Administration on Aging
- Veterans Administration
Pharmaceutical Assistance Program
Services often differ under pharmaceutical plans but some may include
• Financial help with insurance reimbursement
• Referrals to co-pay relief programs
• Help with the application process
• Discounted or free medication to those that may qualify
Research the website of the drug company that produces your medication to see if it has a patient assistance program. Also, your doctor may be able to prescribe medications that qualify. Finally, the Partnership for Prescription Assistance has a list of pharmaceutical programs providing financial help for cancer patients.
Non-Profit Financial Help With Cancer Costs
With cancer expenses climbing, many non-profit organizations exist just to assist cancer patients who need financial help. Some organization may assist a specific type of cancer, and each organization will have unique eligibility rules.
- CancerCare Co-Payment Assistance Foundation
- Chronic Disease Fund
- Healthwell Foundation
- The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Co-Pay Assistance Program
Finally, if you find that you do not qualify for current financial programs, consider starting a fundraiser for yourself or for a loved one facing medical bills due to cancer treatment. The funds that you raise can go directly to medical bills or cancer expenses.
In 2013, an estimated 1,660,290 new cancer cases will be diagnosed in the United States – more than ever before. Perhaps due to this increase, we’ve been seeing more people starting fundraisers for cancer than any other cause. So, naturally, providing information on cancer fundraising has become one of our priorities at YouCaring.
Here’s a quick overview of the physical, financial and emotional effects of cancer on patients, along with some resources to help you help a loved one win the fight against cancer.
What Cancer Does to the Body
Cancer is a disease that essentially makes your cells turn against you – normal cells glitch and begin to replicate uncontrollably and invade other tissues, forming tumors. A cancerous tumor (called a malignant tumor) will spread from one isolated tissue to nearby tissues and other parts of the body.
These new masses of tissue interfere with the body’s normal functioning and, if they spread enough, can cause the body to completely shut down. Because of this, cancer remains the second most common cause of death in the US, accounting for nearly 1 of every 4 deaths.
But if caught early enough, many cancers are treatable. Some of the most common treatments for cancer include chemotherapy and radiation therapy, which fight against the disease by killing the abnormal cells.
Cancer treatment takes a toll on the body, both physically and emotionally, but can also significantly impact the patient’s wallet.
Many don’t realize that the list of expenses for a cancer patient doesn’t only cover specific treatments, but everything from doctor visits and lab tests to hospital stays and home care, which can add up to tens of thousands of dollars.
A 2010 study by the National Cancer Institute estimated that a number of money Americans spend on cancer treatment each year would increase 27 percent between 2010 and 2020, to reach a staggering $158 billion per year.
And having medical insurance doesn’t eliminate all out-of-pocket expenses. A 2011 Duke University medical study surveying 216 cancer patients found that average out-of-pocket costs for treatment exceeded $700 a month, despite the fact all but one of the participants had health insurance.
For someone who is regularly fighting a civil war with their body, these costs can be crippling and can result in patients not following recommended treatment procedures.
Some patients in the Duke study reported not filling prescriptions, rationing medications, skipping treatment appointments and opting out of recommended tests in order to save money.
In Need of a Support System
It can be hard for someone battling cancer to deal with the physical, emotional and financial hardships brought on by their illness. So it helps to have a strong support system from friends and family backing them up.
But often friends and family may not know how they can help when a loved one is dealing with cancer.
Creating a cancer fundraising profile for a loved one is an excellent way to show your support, while also helping to cover their mounting medical expenses.
In addition to providing an easy way to raise funds that require relatively little effort from individuals, a fundraising page also creates a space for friends and family to stay connected and leave words of encouragement by commenting on the page.
The beneficiary of the fundraiser can post text, photo and video updates to let their loved ones know how they’re doing, giving them an emotional lifeline to lift their spirits when times get hard.
By combining the power of crowdfunding with social sharing and interaction, online cancer fundraising can help lighten the financial burden of cancer treatment while easing patients’ minds and lifting their spirits through the loving words of family and friends.
Financial Help for Cancer Patients
It can be difficult for someone diagnosed with cancer to navigate the various financial resources available to him or her. Even with private health insurance, government-funded insurance plans, and nonprofit aid, most cancer patients still need additional financial assistance.
A National Concern
A 2011 study by Duke University showed the average cancer patient in the US pays over $8,500 a year in out-of-pocket medical expenses not covered by insurance. Besides the cost of treatment and procedures, additional expenses such as transportation costs, expensive diets or physical therapy add to the staggering bill.
What’s worse is that cancer expenses often affect the financial well-being of the cancer patient and his or her family. Bankruptcy is one of the most common ways large medical bills can hurt an entire family. And studies have shown that bankruptcy rates are nearly double among cancer patients one year after diagnosis than they are for the general population.
Resources for Cancer Patients: Why it pays to ask
A 2013 study found that most cancer patients would like to speak with their doctors about the cost of their treatment, but many often don’t for fear it will compromise their care.
However, there are benefits to speaking up. The same study found that patients who do bring up the subject of finances believe the talk with their doctor helps decrease costs.
If you’re having trouble wording your financial concerns, here are some easy ways to bring up the subject of costs as you develop your treatment plan:
- “I’m worried about how much cancer treatment will cost. What resources are available to me?”
- “I know this may be expensive. Where can I go to get an idea of the total costs of treatment?”
- “Will my health insurance pay for this treatment? How much of the total costs will they cover?”
- “I’m concerned about the cost of this treatment. Are there other treatments options you would recommend that are less expensive?”
If you have questions about financial assistance programs specific to you, speak with your doctor or hospital social worker – the hospital business office should have helpful information and additional resources.
Local services or volunteer organizations may also offer financial assistance but may have limited resources.
Government and Pharmaceutical Assistance
Government healthcare programs also provide financial assistance for cancer patients. Some, like the Social Security Administration and the US Department of Health and Human Service, offer help in the form of entitlements primarily for low-income households, the elderly and the disabled.
Pharmaceutical companies and drug manufacturers can also help with insurance reimbursement, referrals to co-pay relief programs, applying and providing discounted or free medications for patients who are not eligible for other assistance.
Contact the Partnership for Prescription Assistance for more information about which drug manufacturers have the medication you need and what they can do to help.
Another useful resource for cancer financial assistance is CancerCare, which also offers additional support to cancer patients, including counseling, support groups, and co-payment assistance.
How to Receive Donations for Cancer
If you or someone you know is battling cancer and in need of financial support, our fundraising pages are an excellent way of receiving donations for cancer.
How Fundraising Pages Work
It takes just a few minutes to set up a fundraiser, and we’ve designed the pages with “spreading the word” in mind. Pages integrate seamlessly with Facebook and Twitter, and it takes just a few clicks to import your email contacts to build even more awareness around your fundraising effort.
Experience Is Everything
After sharing your fundraising page’s link via social media and/or email, people can visit the page and do a number of things: from viewing your photos to reading about the fundraiser’s beneficiary and their story, to donating, the page is the nucleus of your fundraising effort. There are also more advanced features such as integrating an Amazon Wishlist so people can not only donate but also buy helpful items that the beneficiary has requested. From the simple set-up to the actual donation process, our goal is to always make sure we’re providing our users with the most valuable fundraising experience possible.
Check out the following if you’d like to learn step-by-step how to start a fundraiser.
Financial Assistance for Breast Cancer Patients
The Costs of Breast Cancer
The financial costs associated with breast cancer treatment can be a strain on families, even with health insurance. Medical costs in the U.S. associated with breast cancer reached $16.5 billion last year and costs only continue to rise. Researchers believe breast cancer costs alone could reach $21 to $26 billion by 2020. You can find out more Breast Cancer Facts here.
New breast cancer drugs can costs $100,000 or more a year, and important follow-up care continues long after treatment- sometimes for the remainder of a patient’s life. While new technologies are introduced as resources, they also bring in an added financial cost. Learn about The Benefits of Breast Cancer Clinical Trials and how crowdfunding can help pay for it. Proton therapy, for example, is a new high-tech treatment- twice as expensive as conventional radiation but with no proof to be more effective. The financial toll on an individual can leave many breast cancer patients looking for help.
The financial strain on breast cancer patients is showing. Medical bills are the leading cause of bankruptcies in the U.S. and one-quarter of U.S. cancer patients put off getting a test or treatment because of the cost. One study estimated that breast cancer patients pay on average $712 a month in out-of-pocket medical expenses and few know where to find financial assistance.
Where to Find Help
The first place to find financial assistance may be with your doctor. Some drugs may have cheaper alternatives available. Also, the billing office may be able to help by creating a billing plan to spread payment over time.
Realizing the huge demand for financial assistance for breast cancer patients, several organizations have popped up in recent years. The Miles of Hope Breast Cancer Foundation gives around $250 to $1,000 to select applicants. The Pink Fund also works to give up to $1,800 to cover rent, utilities or other expenses. Government programs also exist to help patients. Medicaid provides health insurance for low-income families who meet requirements. Some breast cancer patients may also qualify for Social Security disability benefits. While these can be great resources for some, demand is high and resources may be low.
Finally, raising money online for yourself or a loved one may be one way to provide financial assistance. Starting a personal online fundraising website allows friends and family to not only donate to help cover the cost of medical bills, but also provide emotional support.
Breast cancer and continued treatment can be a very expensive illness. It’s important to find what resources are available to you and talk to your doctor about reducing your expenses. Start breast cancer fundraising today.