Cancer Can be a tremendous financial burden on a patient as well as on a family. Besides hospital bills, cancer treatment includes many expenses insurance often doesn't cover, such as necessary transportation and child care. If the person with cancer or caregiver has to stop working, the financial crisis becomes greater. Some relief is available, but it will take effort to piece together what is available to you according to your needs and the specific qualification criteria.
Here are some general tips for finding assistance:
Understand what assistance you are entitled to under the law (these programs are called entitlements). A hospital or community social worker can direct you to the proper government agency. Most entitlement programs take time to process yoru enrollment application forms. The sooner you request information and send in your application, the sooner you will receive assistance.
Take time to review your health insurance policy, as well as any other insurance policies you may have, to better understand your coverage. Ask your insurance company if they can assign you a case manager to help you and answer you questions.
If you need help with hospital expenses, not covered by insurance or copays you no longer can afford ask to speak with a financial counselor in the business office of the hospital who can help you develop a monthly payment plan, process a co-payment waiver for you or a charity care application.
If you expect to run out of money or already have and cannot meet your daily living expenses like rent and food talk directly to your creditors and explain your situation. Many utility and mortgage companies for example will work out a payment plan wih you before a crisis develops.
Don't forget about the power of using your local elected officials. They often have resources and connections that can be useful. If you are having difficulty with Medicaid, calling the office of your state representative might help; for Medicare problems, your federal representative or senator's office may have information and assistance.
To find out who your elected officials are and how to contact them, contact Project Vote Smart at www.vote-smart.org or call the agency toll free 888.868.3762
About The Author: Wilma Ariza is the Founder and Development Director of Stevie JoEllie's Cancer Care Fund a Project of United Charitable Programs Inc., a 501(c)(3) Public Charity Tax ID 20-4286082 Progam 102442. In 2008 her daughter Stevie JoEllie was diagnosed with State II Follicular Thyroid Cancer a few weeks after her 21st Birthday and has "survived" two thyroid cancer recurrences.