Managing the costs of cancer

August 31, 2016 | by Edward-Elmhurst Health

The cost of cancer can be overwhelming. Even with health insurance, many patients find themselves needing financial assistance along the way.

A recent study suggests many patients want to talk to their doctor about managing the costs associated with cancer. Yet, these patients often keep quiet because they fear the discussion could compromise the quality of their treatment.

Your health care team can guide you in the right direction and provide helpful resources, such as programs available to offset the financial burden of cancer.

Here are questions you can ask your doctor, nurse or social worker to get you started:

  • How much will my health insurance cover?
  • What will the total cost of my cancer treatment be?
  • Are there alternative treatment options?
  • Are there resources available to me?

Many hospitals and cancer centers have financial counselors who can help you with the financial aspects of treatment. For example, you may have received multiple bills from each hospital department involved in a procedure you had, such as separate lab (pathology), anesthesiology and surgery bills. Financial counselors can help you figure out a payment plan and look into national and state organizations that offer financial assistance to reduce costs.

Keep in mind there are different costs of cancer treatment, including: doctor’s appointments, cancer treatment, medication, transportation and/or travel, family and living expenses and caregiving. Fortunately, there are many national and state organizations that can help.

CancerCare and list just a few sources of financial assistance. You can also find cancer treatment and resources in your area by visiting the American Cancer Society. The American Cancer Society has links for everything from financial assistance to housing and transportation.

If you have trouble paying a bill, there are resources available to you. Many hospitals and agencies are willing to work with patients. The American Cancer Society lists what you can do:

  • Explain the problem to the hospital/clinic financial counselor or the doctor’s office manager.
  • Work out a payment delay or an extended payment plan.
  • Talk with the team social worker about sources of short-term help.
  • Meet with your cancer care team, social worker or financial counselor to see what other resources might be available.

The most important thing you can do is stay organized and ask for assistance when you need it. Keep detailed records of your notes, receipts, bills, invoices and insurance claims.

Your health care team wants what is best for you and they want to help. Don’t be afraid to speak up and ask questions.

How do you manage the costs of cancer? Tell us in the below comments.

Find more cancer support services at Edward-Elmhurst Health.
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