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Financial SupportIssue Introductions

Introduction: What Financial Assistance Is Available for Your Cancer Treatment?

This Fourth 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.
Lillie D. Shockney, RN, BS, MAS, HON-ONN-CG
Co-Founder, Academy of Oncology Nurse & Patient Navigators® (AONN+)
Editor-in-Chief, Journal of Oncology Navigation & Survivorship®
University Distinguished Service Professor of Breast Cancer
Professor of Surgery, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
Co-Developer, Work Stride: Managing Cancer at Work
Johns Hopkins Healthcare Solutions
Breast cancer survivor

The cost of cancer therapy continues to rise every year, and many patients find themselves in serious financial difficulties, on top of dealing with the devastation of a cancer diagnosis. The annual cost of cancer treatment can easily reach $100,000, $200,000, or more, for medications as well as for other expenses, such as travel to treatment or hotel stay, and yet patients are often too em­­barrassed to raise the problem with their care team.

Dealing with a cancer diagnosis is hard enough, so if you or your loved one have financial difficulties, be aware that there are many financial assistance programs and nonprofit organizations that are available to help with the cost of treatment.

Although some oncology practices and cancer centers have financial counselors and nurse navigators who talk with patients about their financial situation, many do not, leaving many patients unaware of the vast financial services available to them. Get familiar with this newest edition of the Patient Guide to Cancer Support Services 2020, brought to you by CONQUER magazine, and find out what type of financial help you are eligible for.

A well-kept secret is that many pharmaceutical companies provide their cancer drugs at a significant savings, or for free, to patients. This is not a myth. When you search this Guide, you may be surprised to see how many drug companies do so.

Although many programs provide the drugs at low or no cost, for patients who meet certain financial criteria, some companies have no income requirements for those with commercial insurance, or those without insurance who cannot afford their treatment. In addition, many government and other nonprofit organizations offer financial help, as outlined in this Guide.

The Guide is organized by cancer type, listing the drugs prescribed for each type, which makes it easy to find your specific medication. Each section includes information about financial assistance programs provided by the drug company for each specific cancer.

So, look for the drug, or drugs, you are using to find out what financial assistance programs are available, and then find out how to contact the relevant programs so they could help you pay for your medication.

Whether you are insured, under­insured, or uninsured, these financial assistance programs are designed to help you pay for your medications. Remember that if you do have private insurance, your insurance company will pay its share of the cost, and the drug company will pay your copay, deductible, or co-insurance. Some will also pay for other expenses related to your treatment, such as travel to a cancer clinic or hospital, hotel stays during treatment, or even a wig. Become familiar with these options so you can get the treatment you need to achieve the best result possible for your diagnosis.

If you are not sure how to use this information, ask your navigator or your doctor for help. Take this Guide with you to your next appointment, and be sure to ask your navigator or care team how to apply for financial help.

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Last modified: February 7, 2020

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