Patient access to cancer therapies can present a serious challenge because of the high cost of many of these drugs, and the cost continues to rise. Indeed, “financial toxicity” is now considered another type of side effect associated with cancer care. And this does not affect only patients without financial resources or health insurance. Because the annual cost of cancer treatment can be $100,000 or more, and because many insurance companies expect patients to pay a large part of the cost of cancer care, a cancer diagnosis can present a serious financial conundrum for patients and their families.
Patients are often embarrassed to discuss their financial difficulties with their providers, but they should not be. Dealing with cancer is hard enough. You should feel free to discuss your financial situation with your care team and ask for help when needed. You may be surprised to find out how much support is available today for patients with cancer.
Many nonprofit organizations and for-profit drug manufacturers now offer many patient support services, including financial help, specifically for those dealing with a cancer diagnosis. Many programs now offer cancer drugs at a much reduced cost, or at no cost, to patients who meet certain financial criteria. Furthermore, many drug companies are providing their drugs for free for a period of time to patients with financial difficulties, or help patients find financial support from nonprofit organizations, as described in this Guide.
This Second Annual Guide is provided to you by CONQUER magazine, to help you and your providers, especially your nurse navigator, become more aware of the many financial support services that may be able to help you to receive the best treatment you need and relieve you of the associated financial worries. You will find here resources for financial assistance for more than 20 cancer types, ranging from bladder cancer to thyroid cancer.
Each cancer type includes information about financial assistance programs specific for drugs for that cancer offered by the respective drug companies. So look for the drug or drugs you are currently using to find out what support programs are available from the drug company or from nonprofit organizations, and then contact the relevant programs to see how they can help you to pay for your medications.
Whether you are insured, underinsured, or uninsured, these financial assistance programs are designed specifically to help you pay for your medications and other expenses related to cancer care, such as travel to a cancer clinic or hospital, hotel stays during treatment, or wigs.
Becoming familiar with these options can help you to get the treatment you need to achieve the best result possible for your diagnosis.
If you are not sure how to use this Guide, ask your navigator for help. Many cancer centers today are establishing financial navigators and counselors in their programs to help patients apply for aid from the different programs listed in this Guide. Become familiar with this Guide, and take it with you to your next appointment to discuss with your navigator or your care team what financial help is available for you.