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Sources of Financial Assistance
Help with the costs of cancer care can come from many sources. It will take effort to piece together what is available. A social worker or financial counselor may be able to help you find out what assistance you may qualify for and apply for it.
- Health Insurance
If you have health insurance, it should cover many of the costs of cancer care. To obtain all the benefits you're entitled to, it's important to understand how your health insurance policy works. Review your policy to find out what it covers and what you need to do to ensure coverage for your cancer treatment. Ask your insurance company if they can assign you a case manager to help you and answer your questions.
You have the right to appeal if your health insurance company denies coverage for any aspect of your cancer care. Find out from your insurance company what you need to do to appeal a denial of coverage. If your appeal is denied, you may be able to get help from your state's insurance department.
- Government Programs
You may qualify to receive financial help from a government program. The federal government offers several programs that provide assistance with medical and living expenses. Many of these programs (including Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security) are targeted to people who are disabled or elderly or who have low incomes. Many state governments also have programs to assist qualified state residents with medical and living expenses. Most government programs take time to process your application, so the sooner you send in your paperwork the sooner you will receive assistance.
- Public and Nonprofit Hospitals
Hospitals operated by state or local government and some nonprofit hospitals provide a safety net for anyone who needs care, regardless of ability to pay. A social worker or your local health department may be able to help you find out what kind of "charity care" or "indigent care" programs are available in your community.
- Co-pay Relief Programs
Many voluntary organizations offer financial assistance to people with cancer who cannot afford to pay insurance premiums, co-payments, deductibles, and other out-of-pocket costs. Each organization offers different kinds of assistance and has its own eligibility rules. Some programs may be available only to people with specific types of cancer. Funds are limited and the amount of funding available can change. It is best to contact each organization to find out what is available.
- Patient Assistance Programs
Many pharmaceutical companies have patient assistance programs that may provide help with insurance reimbursement, referrals to co-pay relief programs, and help with applications for assistance. Many companies also offer medications at little or no cost to patients who don't qualify for other help. Your doctor's office may be able to help you locate patient assistance programs for your medications.
- Assistance from Voluntary Organizations
Voluntary organizations may offer assistance with practical needs such as child care, household help, and transportation. Each organization offers different kinds of assistance and may have its own eligibility rules. It is best to contact each organization to find out what is available.
Fundraising may be an option to pay for your cancer care. Be sure you have explored all other sources of financial help first. Also make sure that raising funds will not disqualify you for other benefits such as Medicaid or Social Security. Consider working with an organization that has experience raising funds for medical treatment. If you want the funds you raise to be tax-deductible for the donors, you will need to work with a tax-exempt organization. Be sure to follow Internal Revenue Service guidelines for using tax-exempt donations.
- Personal Financial Planning
Consider seeking advice on your financial situation from a professional such as an accountant or a financial planner. An accountant may be able to help you save money on your income taxes. For example, you may qualify for tax credits that will reduce your taxes. If you have a lot of out-of-pocket medical expenses, you may be able to reduce your taxes by deducting some those expenses from your income. A financial planner may be able to help you take control of your finances and plan for your financial future. Look for free or low-cost financial planning talks sponsored by organizations such as AARP or by investment management companies.
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