Money is something that no one likes to talk about and it becomes even more stressful when you’re sick. When cancer comes our way, the financial challenges are too big for us to ignore. Survivors are nearly 3X more likely to file for bankruptcy than those without a cancer history, so it’s important to face our financial considerations up front.
Those facing cancer are usually so stressed out and fuzzy minded that they find it difficult to work. After serious thought it might even be wise to consider doing a financial downsizing on your obligations to help you through the days ahead. Some choices might seem humiliating, but by downsizing it might make your life simpler and even less space to have to deal with keeping clean and updated. This may not be what you want, but it might help keep you financially afloat until you are able to return to work.
One of the most important things you can do is to anticipate your financial challenges when you learn you have cancer. Some of the potential issues you will probably face are the need to take at least some time off work. You will still have co-payments even with health insurance, as some things just aren’t covered under most plans. Those supplements and other complementary treatments that will help with side effects are most likely all out-of-pocket expenses and the experimental treatments that might be suggested aren’t covered by your insurance.
More help might be required for keeping your household going such as walking your dog and help with house cleaning and childcare. If the facility for your cancer center is far from your home, you will need to factor in travel costs and possibly hotel rooms along with parking at the hospital and/or other places during your stay.
You can look for help at the following places:
- Some of the big pharmaceutical companies will help with drug costs. Get paperwork started before you start treatment. Ask the medical team about this right off.
- Many non-profits are there to help cancer patients where you can get help with housing, transportation, housework, buying wigs, food, exercise coaching and complimentary therapies like massage and yoga. Ask your medical team what’s available in your area. Use all options available to you.
- Financial navigation coaches are provided at most large cancer centers that will help you pick your way through the confusing landscape of cancer care.
- Help with drug costs can be utilized through the Partnership for Prescription Assistance at www.pparx.org.
- Financial Treatment Project has just begun pilot programs in Seattle Cancer Care Alliance in Washington and Tufts University in Massachusetts.
- The Cancer Financial Assistance Coalition brings many organizations together than help cancer patients. Search by zip code to find things near you.
- The CancerCare Copayment Assistance Foundation at www.cancercarecopay.org helps with co-payments as also groups at www.lls.org/support/financial-support/co-pay-assistance-program and www.healthwellfoundation.org.
If you still hate to talk about money try One Study at www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4933128, where it found that cancer patients who filed for bankruptcy had a higher mortality rate than patients who did not. Face your finances – it’s good for your health! Less stressed is important!
Dr Fredda Branyon