Financial Concerns and Cancer

A cancer diagnosis can cause financial concerns. Even if you have insurance, there are things you need to think about. Here are the questions you need to ask before you start treatment:

  • Am I insured? Is my insurance going to cover the cost of treatment?
    • Before you begin treatment, take a look at your insurance plan to see what starting treatment will cost you.
    • A portion of costs will be “out of pocket” with any insurance plan.
      • See if you can get this cost automatically taken out of your bank account or pay check or paid with a credit card.
    • You have to meet your deductible before your insurance company will pay for care.
    • As soon as possible, determine what your co-payment will be for each appointment and treatment.
      • Use this to make a budget for future treatments and doctor appointments
    • Most insurance plans have the option for cancer patient to be assigned a case manager.
      • Be sure to ask for this service.
      • This person will be able to answer all your questions.
      • If your insurance company does not have a case manager service, ask to speak to the same representative each time you call.
      • If your insurance is through your employer, someone in HR will be able to answer questions about your coverage.
    • You may need to find a supplemental program to cover fees that your primary insurance does not.
  • What if I don’t have insurance?
  • Can I afford treatment? What other expenses can I expect?
    • Before you begin treatment, ask the billing department the expected cost of your treatment.
      • When you begin, your doctor will give you a treatment plan.
        • For example, you will do a certain number of rounds of chemotherapy or a certain number of weeks of radiation.
      • Take this plan to the billing department to get an estimate of the cost of your prescribed treatment plan.
      • The more information you get the better you can prepare.
    • Ask the billing department if there are any ways you might be able to save money.
      • Many providers will give you a discount if you pay in full.
      • Ask if you can set up a payment plan where you pay a certain amount each month towards your bill. 
    • You will need to change your current budget to include costs related to your cancer diagnosis and care.
  • Are there options for treatment that are less expensive? Are these options just as effective? Am I eligible for a clinical trial?
    • Ask your doctor and healthcare team these questions.
    • Be sure to discuss all your treatment options with your healthcare team.
    • Clinical trials are not more or less expensive than other treatments. Many insurance plans cover clinical trial treatments. Ask your doctor and healthcare team for more information
  • Does my hospital or treatment center have options for financial assistance? Is there assistance I can apply for? Does my hospital have a reduced cost program? If so, what are the eligibility requirements?
    • Many hospitals have options for financial assistance.
    • Ask if there is someone you can talk to about your options.
  • What other costs should I expect?
    • Additional expenses  you need to consider include:
      • Transportation
      • Child care
      • Nutritional supplements
      • Additional prescriptions
      • Prostheses (artificial body parts) or wigs
      • Household chore services (cleaning, grocery shopping, etc.)

If you are unable to work because of your cancer diagnosis, you may consider applying for social security benefits. To learn more about this, read What Do I Need To Know About Social Security Disability Benefits and Cancer? 

If you need help navigating the financial implications of cancer, contact PearlPoint Cancer Support to speak to a Cancer Support Professional at (877) 467-1936 X 101 or guidance@pearlpoint.org