Tools to Help Us Understand and Manage Cancer Costs
I hate dealing with insurance. Absolutely, positively detest it. For many years, the thought of having to deal with insurance actually kept me from even going to the doctor. My distaste for dealing with insurance could have easily cost me my life.
Where to start?
I imagine others feel similarly about insurance companies. It just seems so confusing ... and often, it also seems like the insurance companies have us patients over a barrel. Dealing with them can become frustrating really quickly. On the other hand, what would we do without them? I cannot imagine learning that I have cancer and realizing that I have no insurance to help cover the costs.
I just attended a presentation about managing cancer costs and could hardly wait for it to finish so I could share some of what I learned with you. Read on to learn about a few Websites and resources that will be helpful as you navigate your cancer care and its costs.
Resources from Triage Cancer
Triage Cancer - this Website is amazing! It has all kinds of resources to help us navigate cancer survivorship. Among the available tools are guides and webinars that answer questions about health insurance, the Americans with Disabilities Act, Reasonable Accommodations, Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), and much, much more. These guides will be particularly informative for those cancer patients who still working after their diagnosis.
In addition, the Triage Cancer site has guides to help us understand how to decode medical bills, manage finances, and if necessary, file for bankruptcy. If you're on Medicare, the Website includes a Quick Guide, a Webinar, "Making Sense of the Medicare Maze," and a number of current and useful blogs about navigating Medicare.
If you want to know more about clinical trials or estate planning or cancer survivorship, Triage Cancer has guides, blog posts, webinars or videos that will be helpful. I highly recommend that you take some time to explore this site if you have cancer or know someone who does.
Managing medication cost
Prescription drugs can be very expensive, especially those we need to fight our cancer or its side effects. There are several Websites that you need to be aware of if you are having trouble paying for your drugs. Most of these programs are income based, but you should apply for assistance, even if you think your income might be too high. The income caps may be high enough that you will still be eligible for some help.
NeedyMeds - NeedyMeds is a 501(c)(3) national non-profit information resource dedicated to helping people locate assistance programs to help them afford their medications and other healthcare costs.1
Partnership for Prescription Assistance - this is a free service that will help you find help for prescription drugs. (Beware of similar services that charge for their services.)
GoodRX - I use this site frequently to find out what all of the various pharmacies near me are charging for a prescription drug I need. You will be amazed at how big a difference there is in costs, depending on which pharmacy you use. Beware! Just because one drug is cheaper at Walmart, doesn't mean another drug won't be cheaper at CVS.
Finding insurance right for you
If you are shopping for insurance on your state's Health Insurance Marketplace, you should download the Cancer Insurance Checklist. This tool is designed to help you compare the various insurance plans so you can choose the one that will be best for your specific circumstances.
Health Care Bluebook may also help you save money on services. It allows you to shop for affordable care in your area, based on what your needs are.
I searched on "lung cancer" in my zip code and learned that the costs for hospitalization in my location range from $6,018 to over $18,800 for a 3-day admission. For a chest CT scan with no contrast, prices in my area vary from $194 to over $1700. Five facilities within 30 miles of home offer discounts for patients who pay cash prior to the procedure.
It pays to be an informed consumer, especially when we have to have so many different medications, treatments, tests, and scans. These tools will help.
Have you experienced insurance obstacles in your lung cancer journey?