Cancer is an insidious disease that can come and go and play hide and seek in the body. Its detection and treatment can impose severe financial burdens on the patients and their families. Many Americans have insurance, but too many do not have adequate insurance or lack any insurance. Very often the cost of treatment comes up in Support Group discussions. Resources are available for the individuals/families needing assistance. We have provided some information for Support Group Leaders or state leaders to share whenever possible. We also encourage cancer patients and their families discuss their financial concerns with their physician(s), medical social workers, or the business offices of their hospital or clinic.
Most people are familiar with Medicaid and Medicare. These are government programs developed for people who need financial assistance for medical expenses.
For specific information about Medicaid and what it covers go to the Medicaid website, or call 1-877-267-2323.
For additional information about Medicare go to the Medicare website, or call 1-800-633-4227 (1-800-MEDICARE).
GovBenefits.gov is the official web site of the United States Government. It has information on over 1,000 benefit and assistance programs. The web site features diverse benefits such as disability and financial assistance, insurance, health care and living assistance. For additional information go to the GovBenefits.gov website or call 1-800-333-4636.
HealthResources and Services Administration (HRSA) manages the Bureau of Primary Health Care which offers Health Centers that provide health care to low-income and other vulnerable populations without regard to their ability to pay. The Bureau also provides primary and preventive health care as well as transportation and translation services. To learn more go to the HRSA website.
The Social Security Administration (SSA) oversees programs that provide monthly income for eligible retired persons, surviving spouses, family members and the disabled. In addition to basic Social Security, the SSA administers Supplemental Social Security (SSI) which provides payments for aged, blind, and disabled persons with little or no income. Another SSA program is the SSA Compassionate Allowance Program that allows the SSA to target the most disabled individuals based on medical information. For further information about any of these government programs go to the SSA website, or call 1-800-772-1213.
The Veterans Administration (VHA) Cancer Program provides for easy access to cancer prevention, detection, and treatment services to eligible veterans and their dependants. Treatment for a service-connected condition is provided and treatment for non-service conditions may be available based on the veteran’s financial need. The VHA Cancer Program web site offers links to cancer facts; information about care, a list of VHA designated comprehensive cancer centers and the VA’s national cancer strategy. For more information go to the VA Cancer Program website, or call 1-877-222-8387 and ask for “health care benefits.”
The American Cancer Society (ACS) offers programs to help cancer patients, family members and friends cope with treatment decision and emotional challenges. For further information go to “My Local ACS Office” link at the ACS website, or call 1-800-227-2345.
CancerCare is a national non-profit that offers free support, information, financial assistance and practical help to people with cancer and their loved ones. Financial assistance in the form of limited grants for certain treatment expenses are available. Additionally limited grants are provided for home care, childcare, and transportation for individuals in active cancer treatment. For further information go to the CancerCare website, or call 1-800-813-4673.
The CancerCare Co-Payment Assistance Foundation is affiliated with CancerCare. This Foundation provides assistance for patients who have prescribed chemotherapy but are unable to afford the out of pocket costs or expenses required by their insurer or Medicaid. For further information, go to the CancerCare CoPay website, or call 1-866-552-6729.
The Health Insurance Assistance Service aids cancer patients who have lost or are in danger of losing their health care coverage. This program can be accessed via the American Cancer Society website.
Families USA Program Locator assists families who are having difficulty getting needed health insurance benefits. For more information go to the Families USA website, or call 1-202-628-3030.
The LIVESTRONG SurvivorCare is a partnership of several groups that provide financial assistance to cancer survivors who are 6 months post-treatment with no evidence of disease. Survivors receive limited assistance for transportation to follow-up appointments, for medical co-pays, cancer-related medications, and neurological evaluations. For additional information go to the Livestrong website, or call 1-866-236-7205.
NeedyMeds is a web-based information resource for individuals who need help paying for health care. NeedyMeds does not provide medications or financial assistance but helps people find programs that do provide these services. NeedyMeds also provides resource information about other assistance programs that offer discount drug cards, disease based assistance and free or low cost clinics. For information go to the NeedyMeds website.
Patient Assistance Programs are provided by some pharmaceutical manufacturers to help pay for medications. For more information go directly to the drug manufacturer’s web site and search the “patient assistance programs.” You can also visit the Patient Assistance Programs website to find a large number of pharmaceutical assistance programs.
Partnership for Prescription Assistance (PPARx) has information about more than 475 public and private patient assistance programs including more than 150 offered by pharmaceutical companies. For further information go to the PPARx website, or call 1-888-477-2669.
The Patient Advocate Foundation (PAF) provides education, legal counseling and referrals to cancer patients and survivors concerning managed care, insurance, financial issues, job discrimination, and debt crisis matters. For additional information go to thePatient Advocate Foundation website, or call 1-800-532-5274.
The Co-Pay Relief Program of the PAF provides limited payment assistance for medicine to insured patients who financially and medically qualify. For further information go to the Co-Pay Relief Program website, or call 1-866-512-3861.
RX Outreach – Volunteers in Health Care provides access to generic drugs for low-income individuals. They can be reached at 1-877-844-8442.
Together RX Access provides a free prescription drug card based on financial need to over 250 medications. For information call 1-800-444-4106.
Other sources of Financial Relief
Some non-profit community hospitals are able to provide care for patients in financial need. Some hospitals have indigent or charity care programs. For information about these programs contact a hospital social worker. State and local social service agencies are sometime able to provide help with food, housing, prescription drugs, transportation, and other medical expenses for those who do not qualify for other programs. Further information can be obtained by contacting the local or state social service agency. Another avenue to pursue for aid is the various community volunteer agencies and service organizations. This group includes the United Way of America, Salvation Army, Lutheran Social Services, Jewish Social Services, and Catholic Charities. These organizations can be found listed in the telephone directory.