Women undergoing treatment for breast cancer can have financial difficulties access medical treatment and care. This is due to the high out of pocket costs that many women can experience when they are diagnosed with breast cancer.
The average cost per patient with breast cancer can range from $20,000 up to $100,000. A study entitled ‘The costs of treating breast cancer in the US: a synthesis of published evidence‘ outlines that these costs not only the treatment but the after care for a patient.
In order to access breast cancer financial assistance programs and services, there are 10 steps that patients and their families can take in order to get the best results for financial assistance.
10 Steps To Access Breast Cancer Financial Assistance
1. Contact Your Hospital
Contacting your hospital where you are currently receiving treatment should be your first step. Each hospital will have programs for financial assistance or at least contacts as to where you may be able to seek assistance from.
Letting your hospital know that you are unable to cover your medical expenses can help you to start the negotiation process for your medical bills.
Before doing so, patients should have a sound understanding of the market price and value of the services and treatment received. You can compare prices of hospitals services and then make a determination as to whether your hospital is charging you at a fair price.
Additionally, patients can also setup a payment plan to help overcome any financial issues they may be experiencing. You will receive to have an overview of your expenses, income and savings in order to determine an appropriate amount according to your financial circumstances.
2. Speak To Your Doctor
Talking to your doctor about your financial concerns can also be a helpful conversation too. By opening up this conversation you will be able to start working through different options that do not compromise your medication, treatment and health care.
Many patients are afraid to speak to their doctor as they believe doing so will dramatically compromise their medical care. However, without having a discussion with your doctor, you will most likely forgo appointments and medication, which can still cause damage to your health and well-being.
Patients can receive referrals for financial assistance from their doctor directly. You can also ask for alternative brands of medication such as the generic brands that can still deliver effective treatment without the high price tag.
3. Research Pharmaceutical Company Financial Assistance Programs
Many pharmaceutical companies offer breast cancer patients the opportunity to join a financial assistance program. These programs are available to help patients gain access to drugs and medication that are produced specifically from these pharmaceutical companies.
Patients can receive up to 3 months of free medication in select financial assistance programs or receive better co-pay arrangements for up to 2 years.
Pharmaceutical companies may also have direct links with charities and non-profit organizations. You can potentially receive referrals for further assistance or be eligible for a grant or funding directly from the pharmaceutical company’s own foundation.
4. Connect With Breast Cancer Charities
Breast cancer charities and non-profit organizations can also be a helpful resource for patients who are seeking financial assistance. The next step you should take to secure financial assistance is to research available financial programs targeted for breast cancer patients as well as programs that are available to cancer patients in general.
Women with breast cancer can contact these organizations directly and apply for assistance. Many charities can offer grants or free services that can help cover medical expenses related to your breast cancer treatment.
Patients can receive free transportation, one-off grants to help cover living and household expenses as well as financial assistance programs to help with accessing of medication.
5. Apply For Government Assistance
There are standard government assistance programs that can help patients who are undergoing treatment to receive much needed care and medical attention.
Often these programs are limited to patients who can provide documentation of their financial need, be of low income status and other requirements depending on the state you live in.
6. Fundraise For Financial Assistance
If you have gone through the standard routes for breast cancer financial assistance and still require further assistance, fundraising can be an alternative way to gain financial assistance.
Patients and their families can setup a fundraiser online for free using PeoplePledge. This is a website that has helped patients seek financial support directly from family and friends.
All you require is to sign up online and create a fundraising page. Launching a page can take minutes and you can then share your fundraising page online with friends and family. Many people choose to share their page using their social media accounts, by sending emails and by organising fundraising events at the same time.
This is a great way to connect with fellow breast cancer survivors and fundraisers to receive support, tips and suggestions on how to successfully fundraise for your medical expenses.
7. Examine Your Medical Bills
If you’ve exhausted all other forms of financial assistance, then the next step is to examine your medical bills. Many have experienced problems with their medical bills. This can be errors or duplicates that are commonly found on medical bills.
Unknowing to the patient, hospitals can make common errors which can cost patients hundreds up to thousands of dollars. This means you may be paying for treatment or services that you never received.
Patients should carefully examine every medical bill received before sending any payment. If you spot a problem or are unsure of a item that has been listed, it is always best to double check with the hospital billing department beforehand.
8. Review Your Insurance Claims
Knowing your insurance policy is another way to make sure that you receive all your entitlements from your insurance claims. Being clear on what is covered, what is not covered and what out of pocket costs will be incurred is a helpful step to minimizing your medical bills and therefore minimizing your need for further financial assistance.
Make sure that your billing department in the hospital works directly with your insurance company. Also be sure to check all your entitlements on your policy. The government also provides low cost health insurance for those who are unable to afford health insurance and monthly premiums.
9. Seek Referrals From Your Medical Provider
If you have been denied access to any form of financial assistance programs and services already, then asking for referrals might be an ideal next step to take.
Patients can seek further help from organizations and bodies that aim to help patients gain better access to medical treatment and cancer medication.
There are plenty of resources online that are able to help you to find a referral for a program that may be more suitable for your needs and requirements.
10. Get Professional Assistance
The last step to get financial assistance for breast cancer treatment and care is to seek professional help. Professional help can assist you in negotiating with your hospital directly or perhaps with sorting out any legal issues that arise in the process.
This is an ideal step for patients who have attempted to seek financial assistance but have been unsuccessful. Professional help is a paid service, however patients are only asked to pay if the professional is able to secure a discount or reduce your medical bill. This is normally a percentage of the reduced amount.
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