Finding financial resources for cancer patients is one of the more difficult parts of a diagnosis. Forget the fact that cancer drains you mentally and physically, but it can drain you financially as well.
One minute everything is fine and the next minute you are thrust into a whole new world of cancer, treatment, medicine, and conversations that no one can be prepared for.
And the new “normal” begins, ready or not.
Talk about spiraling out of control?
Suddenly you’re trying to figure out how to manage your house, your family, a full-time job, all while running treatment visits, checkups, and navigating trips to the E.R.
It’s like being torn in a million different directions, and you’re stressed ALL THE TIME.
I get it. That’s exactly what happened to me when my dad was diagnosed with Lung Cancer. And since then 6 other people in my family, including my mother and my husband have all been diagnosed with cancer too.
There is no “right way” to deal with this but there are tips and tricks that can make things a whole lot easier for families going through this.
That’s what our Tackling All The Layers of Cancer Series is all about. We put together everything you need to know when cancer drops into your family. (Hint: If you can’t wait and you want the whole series now, you can grab that here…
Everything we wish that someone had told us.
This section is going to walk you through the financial resources for cancer patients and where to find them.
So, let’s get started.
Contact Your Insurance Company
Here is what a lot of people (including us) didn’t know in the beginning.
Your insurance company is going to be instrumental in helping you navigate all of this stuff.
First, they help you figure out what’s covered under your insurance and where you can seek treatment. They can help you figure out if you need to pay a deductible or if co-payments are applicable (if you’re lucky, you’ll pay neither).
Tell them about your situation and ask them directly if they have any special resources or services for this type of situation… Such as help with travel expenses (like food, lodging, train tickets, or mileage).
Our insurance offered a Cancer Resources Benefit.
They allowed us to submit for reimbursement up to a certain amount when we sought treatment at what they considered to be a Center of Excellence (there were several, but we chose Memorial Sloan Kettering).
They helped us cover…
- Train tickets
Note: Pay attention to the stipulations, our benefit was only applicable if our facility was 100 miles away from our home address. They have a closer location within Sloan that’s not covered because it’s only 86 miles away.
Depending on your insurance, the amounts might be small, but trust me every little bit helps.
And you can supplement things like lodging with resources like the Hope Lodge which is a free place to stay during treatment (more on that later).
Talk to A Social Worker
Once you’ve spoken to the insurance company, and you have an idea of what kind of numbers you’re looking at, things may still be looking pretty overwhelming.
Ask to speak to a Social Worker which will be available through your oncologist’s office. Social workers have access and knowledge to all kinds of resources and options that may be available for your situation.
Financial resources for cancer patients for things like housing during treatment, help with medical bills, help with co-payments, help with prescription medications.
Social workers can guide you to the people and the resources that will help make your journey a lot easier.
Financial Resources For Cancer Patients
There are a lot of resources for people going through this. Here are a few to get you started…
The Hope Lodge. My father-in law who just had a bone marrow transplant is staying in the Hope Lodge NYC at the time this is being written. It’s a free place to stay when you’re getting treatment far away from home. They have been there for a month, and are scheduled to remain for 2-3 more depending on his progress. And let me tell you, this place is Ah-mazing. Seriously.
Resources to Help with Cancer Related Expenses. This link gives you information about the types of help that’s available to assist with expenses.
Road to Recovery. Finding rides to and from treatment.
Managing Debt. This talks about ways to manage your money to help you prepare for a long-term diagnosis.
Resources for the Entire Family
AARP Memberships Benefits. They have a lot of additional benefits for member and tons of information about Medicare.
Understanding A Diagnosis. This is a great guide for how to understanding what cancer is and how it affects the body. This site explains staging and movement and it also gives you insight to what tests are used to evaluate treatment options.
Family Caregiving. Tons of information including how to get paid as a caregiver, how to cope, creating a caregiving plan and ways to manage all of this.
Caregiver and Family Resources. Cancer affects everyone. This info can help you learn how to care for someone going through this and help them (and yourself) cope with everything that is happening.
For Patients and Caregivers. Has great info for every aspect of the cancer journey from prevention, understanding a diagnosis, resources to help, treatment and caregiving.
Your State Government Website. (New York, for example, provides eligible Firemen with a cancer benefit, and also gives people without insurance access to cancer screenings.)
Your local Government Website. A local woman’s league who placed flyers at our local bank, has helped my father-in-law pay for hundreds of dollars in medical expenses.
Trust me, everything helps.
You may have to do some digging, but these resources will hopefully help you get started…
If you live outside of the United States, we recommend reaching out to your doctor and asking for resources that can help. Then I would check your Federal, State, and local governments for additional resources.
P.S. This is the second post in our Tackling All the Layers Of Cancer Series. We’ll walk you through everything you need to know when cancer explodes into your family. If you want the complete series in one document (it’s free) you can grab that here…
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