If financial woes are keeping you up at night, you are certainly not alone. Even with the U.S. economy improving as a whole, around 65% of Americans say that a good night’s sleep can be hard to come by because of worries about money. If you have cancer, your financial situation may be even more vulnerable, especially if you or a family member has had to stop working while you are receiving treatment. Now more than ever, it is vital to take steps to reduce financial worry, so you can focus on the most important thing of all: getting well.
Putting Your Finances in Order
In order to receive a clear picture of how you are doing financially, it is vital to keep all your financial documents together and in an orderly fashion. Try to calculate how much your cancer treatment will cost on a monthly basis. As noted by cancer.org, many patients with cancer incur costs for services such as: provider visits, lab tests, imaging tests, treatment, medication costs, hospital says, surgery, and home car.
Obtaining an Exact Figure
When starting your treatment, speaking with your cancer team can be a big help. Ask them how much treatment and other services might cost, and take this into account when planning out your monthly expenses. In 2017, The American Cancer Society Action Network released its first report into the cost of cancer treatment. They found that in the U.S., cancer patients paid nearly $4 billion in out-of-pocket costs. The report, which investigated the costs for three of the most prevalent cancers (breast, lung, and colorectal) found that “The total patient costs, including premiums, deductibles, co-pays and co-insurance, range from nearly $6,000 a year on an employer-sponsored plan to a little more than $10,000 on an exchange plan. Most of these costs accrue right as a person is diagnosed, leaving patients with significant payments due in a short amount of time.”
Determining Pertinent Work Benefits
If you find that meeting monthly expenses will be difficult, the first step is to find out the extent to which your employer will cover any disability required. You will also need to receive information on continuing health insurance (if pertinent) and find out if you can rely on additional income sources (such as your retirement plan). If you have health insurance, you may want to delay payment pending prior agreement from your insurance company. Your state insurance commission might also provide help when it comes to bills for out-of-network coverage.
Finally, see your bank manager about the possibility of obtaining a loan; sometimes, the amount you need is small, in which case a loan with a fair interest rate can serve to patch up a small financial hole. This can be particularly interesting if there is only a small amount outstanding because your coverage is adequate.
What Happens if You Don’t Have Health Insurance?
If you aren’t covered, try approaching a clinic that offers free or low-cost services to those who are unable to pay and don’t be shy to ask any clinic that is already treating you for a discount. Contact a group such as CancerCare, which provides free counselling on financial and other challenges. Research into the different groups that help cancer patients who are struggling financially – everyone from Road to Recovery (which provides free transport to treatment centers) to The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (which offers grants and copay assistance).
Your local health department will be able to fully inform you of any assistance programs you can rely on.
If you are struggling to meet your cancer related financial needs, make sure to let those around you know you are in need. Often, the solution is a matter of discovering the specific resources which can help you, blended with self-help through a change in your usual payment methods, requesting extensions, starting a Crowdfunding campaign, or even taking out a small loan. Cancer is a challenging disease to battle, so ensuring your mind is as stress-free as possible is key. Grants, crowdfunding pages, and assistant programs are just a few ways you can lighten your burden.
Photo by Alejandro Escamilla on Unsplash