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Where to Find Financial Support for People with Cancer

written by: AngelicaMD • edited by: Diana Cooper • updated: 5/12/2011

Cancer patients are often in need of financial help. The disease is overwhelming not only physically and emotionally since it also strains individuals and families of resources for medical as well as everyday needs. Find out where to get financial support for cancer patients.

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    Financial Needs of Cancer Patients

    Cancer patients are not only overwhelmed with the physical and emotional burden that beset them in the course of their disease, but are also often worried about their financial resources. After all, they will have to shoulder cost of treatment such as laboratory tests, surgery, prescription drugs, radiotherapy, chemotherapy and so on, unless they are fully covered by medical insurance. On top of these, they also have to take into account expenses for daily living, mortgages, childcare, home care, transportation and many more.

    Some problems about finding financial help for cancer patients are that some people may be too embarrassed to reach out for assistance or that they just don't know whom to ask.

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    Where to Find Financial Support

    Here is where to find some sources of cancer support for expenses:

    Government Programs

    Medicaid - provides health insurance for low-income individuals and families. However, not all poor people may be eligible and requirements for screening may vary among different state rules. Information needed may include: age, whether you are pregnant or whether you are disabled; your income and resources (like bank accounts, real property or other properties); and whether you are a U.S. citizen or a legal immigrant. Special rules also apply for those who live in nursing homes and for disabled children living at home. Medicaid sends payments directly to health care providers.

    Social Security disability benefits - depending on the agency's definition of disability, some cancer patients may qualify for financial assistance if they have been paying social security taxes and are US citizens.

    Local Hospital Programs

    Some local hospitals provide financial help for cancer patients who are uninsured or underinsured. The federal government's Hill-Burton program funds hospitals for free or low-cost services for poor families. Patients should seek the help of the hospital's social worker or financial counselor for advice on how to avail of these benefits.

    Nonprofit and Private Organizations

    Some individuals do not qualify for government assistance or insurance but they may find help from organizations who support cancer patients. Some of these are:

    CancerCare - provides small grants for medically related services, like treatment and medication but also assists in finding assistance with other related organizations such as:

    AVONCares - provides limited financial help for home care, childcare and transportation for breast cancer patients

    Linking A.R.M.S. - in partnership with the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, gives limited financial assistance for hormonal and oral chemotherapy of breast cancer patients

    Touching Hearts program - funded by the Mary Kay Ash Charitable Foundation

    The Patient Advocate Foundation - a national organization which runs the Co-Pay Relief Program which assists insured patients

    Partnership for Prescription Assistance - composed of pharmaceutical companies, health care providers and advocacy groups, which help patients without prescription coverage to obtain low-cost and free medicine

    American Cancer Society (ACS) - also helps patients with transportation and cost-of-living expenses

    United Way - located in many communities to help patients find local services (it has an international scope and is also a good resource for people living outside the United States)

    Other cancer support and advocacy groups - different states have their own local programs that provide cancer support for their medical and non-medical expenses such as rent and child care

    In addition to these, patients may also find cancer help by participating in clinical trials on new drugs and treatments for cancer. In this way they may be able to avail of free clinical assessment, laboratory work-up, medications, treatments and follow-up consultations that come with their voluntary participation in research.

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    Resources

    • Medicaid - http://www.cms.gov/home/medicaid.asp
    • Social Security disability benefits - http://www.ssa.gov/applyfordisability/
    • Hill-Burton program - http://www.hrsa.gov/gethealthcare/affordable/hillburton/
    • CancerCare - http://www.cancercare.org/get_help/assistance/cc_financial.php
    • Patient Advocate Foundation/Co-Pay Relief Program - http://www.patientadvocate.org/index.php?p=756
    • Partnership for Prescription Assistance - https://www.pparx.org/
    • American Cancer Society (ACS) - http://www.cancer.org/Treatment/SupportProgramsServices/index
    • American Association for Cancer Research (list of support and advocacy groups in the USA and Canada) - http://www.aacr.org/home/survivors--advocates/cancer-resources--organizations,-agencies-and-websites/support-and-advocacy-groups/us-and-canadian-groups-by-focus.aspx

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    References

    American Association for Cancer Research, "How to Find Financial Aid and Advice", http://www.aacr.org/home/survivors--advocates/information-about-support-groups,-clinical-trials,-financial-help-and-fundraising/how-to-find-financial-aid-and-advice.aspx

    CancerCare, "Financial Assistance", http://www.cancercare.org/get_help/assistance/cc_financial.php

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