Saturday, October 30, 2010

Thyroid Cancer: Paying for Your Care

There is a high price to pay for thyroid cancer, not only in terms of its side effects, fear, depression, and extreme fatigue, but also in terms of the cost of treatment, which could include the need for hormone replacement therapy and papillary thyroid cancer.
If you've got health insurance, it's time to get familiar with its customer service number and the details of what your plan covers — having insurance often doesn’t mean that every bill will be paid. And if you don't have insurance, you're tasked with finding a way to pay for your thyroid cancer treatment when you may barely have the energy to focus on getting better. Thankfully, there are a number of non-profit organizations to help you find ways to pay for your thyroid cancer care.
Working With Your Insurance Carrier
"In terms of working with insurance companies, many people don't know their insurance company benefits until they are diagnosed with cancer," says Carolyn Messner, DSW, director of education and training at CancerCare in New York.
Though most health care providers will ask questions to make sure that your insurance is accepted and that you have coverage, it's still a good idea to call the insurance company on your own and find out the details. Ask what's covered and what's not and whether you need pre-approval for any treatments, and check back to see that all necessary pre-approvals have come through. You want to know that, if you need them, procedures such ashormone replacement therapy with synthetic thyroid hormone and radioactive iodine treatment are covered and that there won’t be any surprises when the bill comes.
If your insurance company denies a medical procedure, don't assume that you can't appeal the decision and that they won't cover it, says Messner. A good strategy is to go ahead and appeal, and see what the outcome is.
Thyroid Treatment: Linking to Resources
There are many non-profit organizations that help people with cancer — finding support, taking care of their practical needs, or figuring out how to pay for their treatment. Three of the leaders are:
"I can't stress enough the importance of connecting with these organizations," says Messner. "This is a whole area of knowledge and information, and you can't know all this when you're first diagnosed.”
These organizations can show you how to navigate the health insurance system and solve problems you may encounter through a wide variety of resources, such as a co-pay foundation to help cover costs that exist even when you have health insurance. Their missions include educating the public about how to find thyroid cancer treatment — procedures and medication — that are free or more affordable if you don't have insurance.
A number of public hospitals will provide care and are increasingly associated with cancer centers,” says Messner. There are also public entitlement programs, like Medicare and Medicaid.
Consider these non-profit organizations your link to cancer services. "They exist to help people get the care they need. People shouldn't think, 'If I don't have coverage, I can't get care' [or] 'I don't know what can be done for me.' We want them to know that a lot can be done,” explains Messner. “We don't want anyone to feel that they are alone."

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