How to Get Help Paying for Cancer Treatment

Photo (cc) by audreyjm529

When Barack Obama ran for president in 2008, his campaign aired a TV commercial that started like this…

My mother died of cancer at 53. In those last painful months, she was more worried about paying her medical bills than getting well. I hear stories like hers everyday. For 20 years, Washington has talked about health care reform and reformed nothing. I’ve got a plan to cut costs and cover everyone.

Obama succeeded in passing his healthcare reform, and as we wrote about a few weeks ago, some big changes have already happened. Many of them will benefit Americans who get cancer, from banning limits on coverage to offering free preventive cancer screenings. Sadly, though, they may not be enough, since the high cost of co-pays and out-of-pocket expenses can really add up.

A new poll of cancer doctors by medical information supplier M3 USA offers this sobering fact: “67 percent of responding doctors reported patients rationing medications or forgoing treatment due to financial and insurance coverage concerns.”

The poll quotes Wisconsin-based oncologist Dr. Shahid Shekhani, who says his patients are canceling appointments and even treatment to save money. “I just had a young grandmother, in her 60s, halt lung cancer treatment that would have extended her survival in order to preserve her family’s finances and her ability to leave an inheritance to her children,” he says.

One big reason is obvious, says M3 USA’s CEO Aki Tomaru: “the continuing grinding effect of the worldwide economic downturn.”

If you or a loved one has been recently diagnosed with cancer, you should obviously start with your insurance provider, but there may be help from places other than your insurance company…

Medicaid

Most people know Medicaid offers healthcare for the poor. And many know the level of that care isn’t exactly what you’d call “state of the art.” But depending on where you live – Medicaid is funded by both federal and state governments – you might be able to qualify for some pretty sophisticated treatment.

“If your state covers ‘off-label’ use of cancer drugs and/or clinical trials, you are covered as a Medicaid cancer patient,” claims Caring4Cancer, a clearinghouse of cancer-related information Off-label treatment means using drugs for purposes other than they were designed for. It’s common, legal, and sometimes very effective.

Caring4Cancer even makes this claim, which isn’t as hard to believe these days as it might’ve been in years past: “Generally, the Medicaid program is less problematic in terms of coverage than many other insurance plans.”

Go to the Medicaid website to find out what your state has to offer, and if your income level qualifies you for this assistance.

Social Security

Most cancers, no matter how draining and debilitating the treatment, don’t qualify you for disability benefits under Social Security. You might think it would, but this is the major rule, according to Social Security’s own website: “You have a medical condition that has prevented you from working or is expected to prevent you from working for at least 12 months.”

Even many of the most severe cancer treatments don’t keep you from working for an entire year. But under specific circumstances, you’re eligible. The Disability Expert sums it up best…

For most types of cancer to be eligible for Social Security disability benefits, the cancer either has to be unresectable (that means it cannot be removed by surgery) or it has to recur after surgery (that means it comes back after surgery) or it has to have distant metastasis (that means it spreads to another site in the body).

Check with Social Security for more details.

Private groups

Many nonprofits offer help with everything from prescription drugs (Partnership for Prescription Assistance) to co-pays (The Patient Advocate Foundation’s Co-Pay Relief Program). The American Cancer Society even has a Road to Recovery program that offers free rides to treatment. Each have their own specific qualifications, so check them out carefully.

For further financial assistance, it turns out that you need to apply based on the cancer you have. Strange but true. So, for instance, the website CancerCare lists a grant application “to help with transportation costs such as gasoline, parking and tolls, and taxi, bus or train fare to and from their medical care” – but only if you have multiple myeloma.

How can you find out what assistance is available for which cancer? The American Association for Cancer Research offers an extensive list. Finally, the problem of paying for cancer treatment has grown so pervasive that 14 cancer-fighting organizations joined forces to launch the Cancer Financial Assistance Coalition. Check it out.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

Read Next
These 5 Laptops Have the Best Battery Life
These 5 Laptops Have the Best Battery Life

Need a laptop that runs as long as you do? Check out these models.

Beware These 5 Common Work-From-Home Scams
Beware These 5 Common Work-From-Home Scams

You can spot scammers and con artists with a little know-how.

16 Products You Absolutely Do Not Need
16 Products You Absolutely Do Not Need

You can safely leave these products on the store shelf.

6 Reasons You Should Stop Hiding Cash at Home
6 Reasons You Should Stop Hiding Cash at Home

Stashing money around the house is anything but harmless.

These 12 Reusable Products Save You Money Over and Over
These 12 Reusable Products Save You Money Over and Over

Buy reusable versions of these household items, and you won’t have to spend another dime on them for years.

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Most Popular
7 Kirkland Signature Items to Avoid at Costco
7 Kirkland Signature Items to Avoid at Costco

Even if it seems you save a bundle buying Costco’s Kirkland Signature brand products, they may not be the bargain they appear to be.

How to Buy Gas At Costco Without a Membership
How to Buy Gas At Costco Without a Membership

The warehouse club often has some of the cheapest gas in town. Here’s how you can get it as a nonmember.

10 Things to Stop Buying If You Want a Clutter-Free Home
10 Things to Stop Buying If You Want a Clutter-Free Home

If you like to keep things simple, avoid these purchases.

If You Find This Thrift Shopping, Buy It
If You Find This Thrift Shopping, Buy It

Vacuums from this brand can last a half-century, if not longer — and they’re hot on the resale market.

A Simple Way to Silence Robocalls Today
A Simple Way to Silence Robocalls Today

A few steps can keep your phone from ringing when a spammer calls.

This Company Makes the Best Tires in America
This Company Makes the Best Tires in America

Driver satisfaction with tires is at an all-time high, but one brand stands out.

This Health Issue Can Hint at Dementia Years in Advance
This Health Issue Can Hint at Dementia Years in Advance

One type of pain is especially associated with cognitive decline.

Can I Switch to Spousal Social Security Benefits When My Ex Dies?
Can I Switch to Spousal Social Security Benefits When My Ex Dies?

Knowing when to claim can help you maximize benefits.

Medicare Will Not Cover These 6 Medical Costs
Medicare Will Not Cover These 6 Medical Costs

Don’t let these health care expenses catch you off guard in retirement.

8 Things You Should Always Buy on Amazon
8 Things You Should Always Buy on Amazon

The giant retailer shines when it comes to these things, from basics to hard-to-find specialty goods.

5 Ways to Get Amazon Prime for Free
5 Ways to Get Amazon Prime for Free

Hesitant to drop $119 a year on an Amazon Prime membership? Here’s how to get it for free.

5 Ways to Fill Your Pantry With Free Food
5 Ways to Fill Your Pantry With Free Food

Anyone can take advantage of these resources.

Beware This Hidden Ingredient in Rotisserie Chicken
Beware This Hidden Ingredient in Rotisserie Chicken

Something foul may lurk in those delicious, ready-to-eat birds.

3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free
3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free

With a little ingenuity, you can cut Office costs to zero.

If You Find This Thrift Shopping, Buy It
If You Find This Thrift Shopping, Buy It

This iconic dinnerware is prized for everyday use as well as reselling for profit.

5 States With the Worst Health Care for Retirees
5 States With the Worst Health Care for Retirees

All of these states are located in the same region of the nation.

12 Deep Discounts Available on Amazon This Friday
12 Deep Discounts Available on Amazon This Friday

These items are steeply discounted — but the deals won’t last long.

5 Products You Should Never Buy Generic
5 Products You Should Never Buy Generic

Sometimes the brand-name version is clearly superior.

This Cellphone Carrier Has the Worst Network Quality, Customers Say
This Cellphone Carrier Has the Worst Network Quality, Customers Say

One major wireless provider stands out for the least reliable call, messaging and data services.

View More Articles

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Add a Comment

Our Policy: We welcome relevant and respectful comments in order to foster healthy and informative discussions. All other comments may be removed. Comments with links are automatically held for moderation.