Cancer is a collective term for diseases that cause cells in the body to grow out of control making it difficult for the body to function normally. It can start anywhere in the body, though some forms like breast cancer and lung cancer are more common than others. Cancer can be treated in a few ways including surgical removal of tumors, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy. It’s estimated that 1.8 million people will be diagnosed with some form of cancer in the United States in 2020.
A cancer diagnosis will understandably take a toll on your emotions and can feel overwhelming. It can also affect your relationships and is likely to take a toll on family members as well. While you’ll certainly be focused on health and treatment, if you or a loved one is diagnosed with cancer, it’s important to consider the costs of treatment options and think about what’s best for your situation.
The costs of cancer treatment and care can be difficult to keep up with for people from all income levels, and you shouldn’t wait until you’re facing financial issues to start worrying about the costs. Here are some things you can do to stay ahead of the costs and find assistance.
Ask Your Doctor About Costs
Many people are uncomfortable asking their healthcare provider about the costs of treatment and medication, but there’s really no reason for this. Cancer patients tend to face especially daunting costs for effective treatment, and while your doctor may not immediately know the costs of your treatment plan, they can direct you to pharmacists, social workers, and financial specialists who will be able to offer more detailed experience. They may be able to help you find better ways to pay for treatment and other support services as well.
Contact Your Insurance Company
You’ll need to understand what’s covered under your current health insurance right away and how many out-of-pocket expenses you’ll face when seeking treatment. It’s rare for a single policy to cover everything you’ll need, but your insurance company may provide significant financial assistance for certain treatments or medications. It may be possible to appeal decisions to receive additional assistance as well.
Apply to Government Programs
You may be eligible for entitlements from various federal or state financial assistance programs. The Department of Health and Human Services, Social Security Administration, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, and the U.S. Administration on Aging all provide different benefits for low-income households, the elderly, and the disabled. Some pharmaceutical companies also offer assistance programs that can help you pay for medication.
Participate in a Clinical Trial
The medical community is constantly testing new treatments through groundbreaking clinical trials, and these can be the best option for some cancer patients. If other treatment options haven’t worked, or you’re unable to pay for other medical treatment options, taking part in a new study through clinical research may yield better results. Costs of any groundbreaking clinical trial are generally covered by the institution running the trial, so you won’t have to worry about medical bills when participating. You will, however, need to meet any eligibility requirements the trial may have, such as the type or stage of cancer being researched.
Consider a Viatical Settlement
With any cancer diagnosis, there’s a chance that your focus will eventually shift away from curative treatment and toward end-of-life care. In these cases, viatical settlements can provide great financial assistance for lung cancer or other forms of cancer. A viatical settlement is similar to a life settlement in that you’re selling your life insurance policy to a third party for a cash payout. The biggest differences are that viatical settlements are only available to those with terminal illnesses, and the payout is tax-free.
Viatical settlements offer immediate financial support, and you can use the money in any way you want. This could be for things like home care, medication, or even to pursue treatment options you couldn’t before. You could also use the money to improve your quality of life by traveling or pursuing other goals while you’re still able. It’s a financial option that gives you freedom.