Cancer treatment is getting even more expensive than before, and paying for it is yet another serious issue that many patients with cancer face. Even for patients who have private insurance through their employer or through an individual plan, many patients today are expected to pay an increasing share of their care from their own pocket. This leads some patients to skip doses or skip treatment altogether, because they simply cannot afford it. A lack of insurance or being underinsured is often a barrier to receiving care. However, when it comes to cancer treatment, this is not an acceptable option, and patients who can’t afford their treatment must speak out.
Talk to Your Doctor or Financial Navigator
Let your doctor or your navigator know if you need help. Asking for financial help is necessary, but many patients avoid approaching this topic. Doctors, too, often don’t ask the patient about finances, but they will know where to direct you if you ask for help, or they may even prescribe less-expensive treatments.
Many cancer centers and hospitals have financial navigators and advisors who help patients to get financial assistance and reimbursement from drug companies for some medications. Be sure to ask your providers for local, state, and national financial resources.
If you are not insured, or if your insurance doesn’t cover much of your treatment, there is help available, but you have to ask for it. Information on help that is available in your state can be found on www.healthcare.gov. Be sure to find out if you are eligible for Medicaid, or if you can receive state or local benefits if your income meets certain financial criteria. Ask your oncologist, your cancer center, or your navigator for help identifying the best resource to manage the cost of your cancer treatment.
Nonprofit Organizations & Programs Providing Financial Assistance to Patients with Cancer
The following national programs provide direct financial assistance for patients with cancer.
AMERICAN BREAST CANCER FOUNDATION
This foundation provides direct financial assistance to uninsured and underserved women and men for breast cancer screening and diagnostic tests.
AMERICAN CANCER SOCIETY
This organization can help patients with cancer to identify financial assistance resources.
THE ASSISTANCE FUND
This is a leading nonprofit organization that provides advanced therapies to patients who are underinsured or chronically ill, including financial aid.
AVON FOUNDATION FOR WOMEN
This foundation provides help to low-income and underinsured people to have regular mammograms and clinical breast examinations.
CancerCare is a national nonprofit organization that provides free professional support services to patients with cancer and their caregivers, including financial and copayment assistance. Its financial assistance programs provide limited financial assistance for cancer-related costs, including copays.
CANCER FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE COALITION
This is a group of national organizations that provide financial help to patients with cancer. The coalition provides a searchable database of financial resources available to patients in need.
CANCER SUPPORT COMMUNITY
Phone: 888-793-9355 (toll free); 202-659-9709
This international nonprofit organization provides support services and education to patients with cancer. These support services are available through community cancer centers, hospitals, and online resources.
Phone: 972-608-7141; 877-968-7233 (toll-free patient information)
This program provides assistance to underinsured patients who are diagnosed with chronic or life-altering diseases, including cancer, to help them access the medications they need.
This nonprofit organization provides financial assistance to eligible individuals to cover their coinsurance, copayments, insurance premiums, and deductibles for certain drugs and therapies.
LEUKEMIA & LYMPHOMA SOCIETY
This organization provides financial assistance, such as help with insurance copay and premium costs, and some testing costs, to patients with a blood cancer (leukemia, lymphoma, or multiple myeloma) who have financial needs.
NATIONAL CHILDREN’S CANCER SOCIETY
This organization provides financial and in-kind assistance, advocacy, support services, and education for children with cancer and their families.
NATIONAL FOUNDATION FOR TRANSPLANTS
This foundation provides fundraising assistance for patients needing organ and tissue transplants, including bone marrow and stem-cell transplants.
NeedyMeds, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, is an information resource on patient assistance programs that help patients who cannot afford their medications or other healthcare costs.
PARTNERSHIP FOR PRESCRIPTION ASSISTANCE
This organization helps qualifying patients who have no coverage for prescription drugs to get the medications they need by connecting them to patient assistance programs. It offers access to more than 475 public and private programs, including 200 drug company programs that cover the cost of drugs for qualified patients.
PATIENT ACCESS NETWORK FOUNDATION
This foundation provides financial support for out-of-pocket costs for a wide range of medications for chronic or life-threatening conditions, including cancer.
PATIENT ADVOCATE FOUNDATION CO-PAY RELIEF PROGRAM
This organization provides direct financial support to eligible patients, including Medicare Part D beneficiaries. This may include out-of-pocket costs for insurance copayments, coinsurance, and deductibles.
PATIENT SERVICES, INC
This nonprofit organization provides health insurance premium assistance, pharmacy copayment assistance, and copayment waiver assistance for patients with chronic illnesses, including cancer.
Phone: 888-796-1234; 800-769-3880
This nonprofit charity provides access to affordable medications. Rx Outreach offers more than 600 medications through its mail-order pharmacy to all 50 states, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands.
www.rxassist.org/contacts (to link to your drug company’s financial assistance program)
This organization provides a comprehensive list and direct link to patient assistance programs for specific drugs from drug companies.
RxHope is a web-based patient assistance resource that helps patients obtain free or low-cost medications.