Recent reports estimate the country will spend at least $173 billion on cancer care in 2020.
The costs of cancer treatment continue to rise significanly each year.
Taking the steps to help plan expenses after a diagnosis can greatly ease the burden.
Mesothelioma patients have several options to help cover their medical expenses.
Affording health care can be costly, especially when treating aggressive cancers, such as mesothelioma, which is a very expensive disease to treat. On top of treatment costs, there are additional fees to budget for, including long-term lodging and travel as patients and their loved ones seek specialist care.
Cancer drugs alone cost upwards of $120,000 annually, which is also expected to rise by as much as 10.5% each year through 2020. Considering the average American family has an annual income of just above $50,000, it’s clear the financial strain can quickly become a large burden for patients and their families.
Keeping the financial requirements of cancer treatment in mind, it’s also important to note that there is help. Families facing a mesothelioma diagnosis will have many obstacles ahead, but there are options available to help alleviate the financial strains and allow patients and their caregivers to focus their attention on fighting the disease.
Health Insurance and Cancer
Studies have shown the majority of Americans don’t understand health insurance, out-of-pocket costs in particular. It’s important to understand your coverage and any expenses not covered to plan ahead for large bills.
There’s a lot of variation in what plans will cover, which is relevant to both private and government programs. In general, plans will cover basic services like checkups, preventive care, and prescriptions, but again, this can vary. Many plans operate by an “in-” or “out-of-network” system, where patients need to visit doctors or hospitals in-network to avoid paying more for service. Out-of-pocket expenses will vary based on the deductible, co-pay or coinsurance of an individual plan. This piece is a crucial component to financial planning.
Understanding insurance terminology can help patients figure out what’s covered and what they may have to pay out-of-pocket. Common terms include:
- Coinsurance: A portion or percentage of health care costs you pay when your health insurance begins. If you have a 20% coinsurance, for example, you would pay 20% of your medical bill and the insurer would pay 80%.
- Copay: A fixed amount of money you pay each time for a doctor’s visit or a fill of a prescription at the time of service.
- Deductible: The amount of money you pay for eligible medical services before the insurer will take over costs.
- Premium: The amount of money you pay for an insurance policy.
Patients and their loved ones should discuss all terms, conditions and details with their insurance company to fully understand billing. Luckily, most plans today have a maximum amount for what patients can be required to pay out-of-pocket, which can help keep the medical bills a bit more reasonable.
You should also keep in mind you can appeal an insurance company’s decision to deny coverage for certain services. Even if you don’t need to seek an appeal, it’s a good idea to keep records of all your medical bills and reimbursements, as well as any services your insurance plan wouldn’t cover.
Financial Assistance for Cancer Treatment
Cancer treatment is the main source of rising costs in cancer care. Researchers show drug costs have increased from $5,000 to $10,000 for a year of treatment to over $100,000 just within a decade. Studies have shown these unattainable costs have led many patients to delay their treatment or take less than the recommended dosage to try to cut costs. Delaying or skipping treatment entirely can have a severe impact on their prognosis.
For many patients, insurance still isn’t enough to cover all of their treatment costs. On average, patients who have insurance can still spend upwards of 20% out-of-pocket for the cancer drugs in their treatment plans. Fortunately, there are other services available to help cover the cost of these expensive treatments.
Financial Assistance Options for Treatment Costs
- NeedyMeds: Helps patients find programs they’re eligible for to receive financial assistance for medication and other healthcare costs.
- Partnership for Prescription Assistance (PPA): A free resource connecting patients with local programs/organizations that offer help with prescriptions and low-cost clinics.
- Patient Access Network (PAN) Foundation: Dedicated to helping underinsured patients facing rare and life-threatening diseases pay for their out-of-pocket medical expenses.
Travel Assistance for Cancer Patients
Patients and their families spend millions of dollars each year on travel and lodging for their appointments. For many mesothelioma patients, it can be difficult to find a mesothelioma specialist located close to home. This can mean a lot of back-and-forth travel for various appointments and scans, and even treatment.
There are various programs and organizations that offer free or reduced travel for cancer patients. Each have their own eligibility requirements, so be sure to research your options to find what may be a fit for your needs.
Travel Assistance Options for Cancer Patients
- Air Charity Network: Volunteer pilots offer services all around the country for patients facing a wide range of medical situations. Patients can receive free flights to distant medical facilities for their treatment.
- Corporate Angel Network: This organization provides free flights to cancer patients traveling for treatment using empty seats on corporate or private planes.
- LifeLine Pilots: A network of volunteer pilots will fly patients in financial need to their medical facility for diagnostic needs, ongoing treatment and follow-up care.
- Lyft: Transportation service that has partnered with insurance companies and the American Cancer Society in the past to provide free medical transport to patients in need. This option is easy and affordable for those that live in participating cities.
- Road to Recovery: Service by the American Cancer Society that helps patients with transport to and from treatments when unable to find a ride.
Lodging for Cancer Patients
Finding affordable long-term lodging while patients undergo treatment can be extremely stressful. Patients and their loved ones shouldn’t have to be separated during treatment because of cost. Luckily, there are various lodging options for patients and their families based on their individual needs.
Many hospitals and cancer clinics offer their own solutions to traveling families, whether it’s a partnership with neighboring hotels for a reduced rate or their own hospitality housing. Requirements and available accommodations will vary, so be sure to discuss your options with a hospital social worker. Patients may also seek assistance from outside organizations that offer their own free or reduced lodging options.
Lodging Options for Cancer Patients
- Healthcare Hospitality Network: Offers free or reduced lodging for patients and their families at nearly 200 member facilities in small houses or hotel-like settings. Hospitality houses provide private rooms as well as common areas to create a sense of support and community.
- Hope Lodge: Program through the American Cancer Society that offers free lodging for patients and their caregivers in a comfortable, home-like environment.
- Joe’s House: Non-profit resource helping patients and their families find reduced lodging during medical treatment. Patients can search their partner network based on rate or proximity to their medical facility.
- Local Options: Many hotels will offer discounts to patients undergoing medical are or seeking long-term housing. Patients and their families should contact local hotels and explain their situation to explore their options.
More Options for Mesothelioma Patients
In addition to these organizations that offer financial assistance, mesothelioma patients may be eligible for other kinds of compensation. Asbestos victims may be able to receive compensation through lawsuits, asbestos bankruptcy trust funds, or veterans benefits depending on their individual case.
Get a free case evaluation to learn more about your rights and what options may be available for you.