In the United States, there are approximately 310,046 people currently living with or in remission from leukemia. Going through treatment for leukemia is a painful experience both emotionally and physically. It can also be a large financial burden for leukemia patients and their families. In fact, one in five American adults struggle to pay their medical bills.
A study published in 2000, found that the average out of pocket cost that families are require to pay is over $9700 per month. These medical expenses cover the cost of treatment and care for a child with leukemia. It was also found in this study that the cost of treatment overall can be $55,196 up to $166,039, with 53 percent of the costs related to basic hospital expenses and 47 percent of costs were patient expenses.
As a result, many leukemia cancer patients and their families are unable to pay for much needed medication, treatment and even basic living expenses. Getting leukemia financial assistance can help patients overcome any financial barriers to receiving proper medical treatment and care.
Where To Find Financial Assistance For Leukemia Patients
There are three core types of leukemia financial assistance that is available for patients.
1. Financial Assistance From Non-Profit Organizations
There are non-profit organizations willing to lend a hand, particularly those that are disease-specific relating to cancer and leukemia.
Organizations such as CancerCare, HealthWell Foundation, Patient Access Network and Patient Services Inc., all provide funding for financial assistance. They are most commonly used for financial assistance for patients with leukemia.
Financial assistance from non-profit organizations however, tend to be limited due to resources and availability. One of the major problems with accessing financial assistance for leukemia patients is the limited funding availability from each non-profit.
Patients may be unable to access financial assistance when a program has closed, or when a program runs out of funding. The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society is one example where their financial assistance program called Patient Financial Aid program is no longer available as of March 2014.
Non-profit organizations provide financial support through a first come first serve basis. This often means that families can miss out of receiving financial help when they need it most.
2. Financial Assistance From Pharmaceutical Companies
A few of the most expensive drugs which are core parts to a patient’s treatment plan are available for free or at a discounted rate by large pharmaceutical companies.
These programs are called co-pay assistance programs, which offer leukemia cancer patients the opportunity to receive treatment at a lower cost than what they would be able to access on their own.
Applications for financial assistance can be limited and may have a number restrictions attached to them. For example, most programs only permit patients to receive benefits from a program for a short period of time. This can be typically for 30 days. Once thereafter, patients will have to pay out of pocket, giving some patients only short term relief from their medical debt.
3. Financial Assistance Using Medical Fundraising
Leukemia patients can also find great value in medical fundraising methods as a means of receiving financial aid. Patients and their families can easily setup a fundraising page online and seek financial assistance from family, friends and other social networks.
The likelihood of receiving support from family and friends is high and there are no limits in terms of how much can be raised or how the funds raised be used. The beneficiary or guardian will receive the funds in full and determine the best course of action in order to get the best results for the patient’s well-being.
This option of leukemia financial assistance is beneficial for families as it offers a greater possibility to cover treatment and other medical expenses in full.
The only setback families can experience if they have limited social networks and/or are hesitant to let people know about their illness. However, often, friends and family are willing to give support the best way possible. If the best way to give support is through a donation to help cover medical expenses, then family and friends are more than happy contribute financially.
10 Things You Can Pay For With Leukemia Financial Assistance
When receiving some form of financial assistance, there are many costs involved with any medical treatment. We’ve outlined the 10 costs that you can cover when receiving leukemia financial assistance.
1. Medical Debt
When getting financial assistance, patients can use the funds to pay medical debt that has piled on. Many families in the United States currently have medical debt or unpaid medical bills when a loved one falls ill. It is the biggest cause for Americans to file for bankruptcy, where over 56 million adults currently have medical debt that they are unable to pay for.
Patients with leukemia and their families can often be in the same boat. Undergoing treatment and medical care doesn’t come cheap and for many patients this means medical bills can accumulate very quickly over time.
2. Leukemia Hospital Treatment and Surgery
Leukemia is often treated with surgery, chemotherapy and other treatments that can also be very costly. These forms of treatments are generally administered in a hospital, where patients can expect to pay for hospital stays, food and transport costs. Patients may require medical devices or supplies that will also need to be paid for out of pocket.
3. Therapies, Medication and Prescription Drugs
Leukemia financial assistance can help families tremendously when it comes to paying the cost for over-the-counter medications and prescription drugs.
Part of every treatment plan for leukemia patients will involve chemotherapy, radiation and other drugs that will be used for a period of time.
The average cost of chemotherapy for example can cost between $100 to $30,000. This pays for only eight weeks of treatment. The variation in cost depends on the type of drugs used. Typically newer drugs can have higher costs associated with it as they have been proven to be more effective.
A recent study published in the journal of the American Society of Hematology found that 11 cancer medications that are currently available on the market for patients, including patients with leukemia can cost more than $100,000 per year.
One example of a drug that is commonly used for Leukemia cancer patients is called imatinib. Imatinib has a high cost drug but has been proven very effective for patients with white blood cell cancer chronic myeloid leukemia.
A research published by the University of North Carolina assessed the anti-cancer drug imatinib and how the cost affected patients’ willingness and ability to use this course of treatment.
This study found that 70 percent of cancer patients were more likely to stop their cancer treatment, with 42 percent of cancer patients opting to skip doses.
Co-payment financial assistance options have given leukemia patients a ranging from zero dollars up to $4,792 for a 30 day supply of imatinib.
For patients with white blood cell cancer chronic myeloid leukemia (CML), imatinib has been known to provide a patient with high survival rates than any other drug on the market. In order for imatinib to work, patients are required to take the drug as prescribed. This mean, without skipping doses.
Similarly, patients in need of Gleevec can expect to pay well over $45,500 on average per year. When getting financial assistance, patients are able to cover for the cost of critical treatment.
Leukemia patients are often in need of a bone marrow transplant or stem cell transplant. Insurance cover plays a large role for determining the out of pocket cost for patients and their families. If your insurance cover does not cover the cost, testing of donors alone can range from $10,000 to $25,000 out of pocket.
Another typical cost when undergoing a transplant is the stem cell harvesting and donor expenses which are also out of pocket. This includes the collection of cells, medical tests and any travel and accommodation expenses as a result of being a donor. These fees can cost on average $3,500–$5,000 if it is a related donor, or $15,000–$50,000 for unrelated donors.
A new process called autologous transplant is also available where stem cells come directly from the patient. This process eliminates the process of getting a donor but can cost up to $150,000. Patients with limited time or cannot find a suitable donor are often forced to pay this cost.
According to Anita Vargas, an oncology social worker at John Theurer Cancer Center at Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey, transplants can even run as high as $500,000.
Financial assistance such as a fundraiser, can help cover these costs. Patients can fundraise for a transplant for example that can dramatically reduce the out of pocket cost for the patient and their family.
5. Transportation Costs
There are many visits and procedures patients will often need to attend to. These can include clinic visits for treatments, getting lab tests and receiving diagnosis or treatment. Patients living in remote locations can experience further costs to travel to and from hospitals and to their medical providers. This can mean patients are force to pay out of pocket for flights and taxi services to be able to receive treatment.
Even patients who live close to medical providers will still need to cover, taxis costs, petrol costs and hospital parking fees. Each patient will have to make many visits that can accumulate the cost of treatment substantially.
6. Household Expenses
Many families supporting a loved one with leukemia will take unpaid full time carer roles. This means, for households with an income less than $55,000 annually, there may be further financial strain on families due to a loss of income. Basic living and household expenses such as food, housing/rent, utilities, can suddenly become a financial burden.
Financial assistance can help cover these costs so that families can focus on providing care and time to a loved one with leukemia.
7. Hospital, Specialists and Doctor’s Appointments
Financial assistance can also be used to pay for related cost when visiting the hospital, seeing specialists and attending to doctor’s appointments.
Getting tests, check-ups and prescriptions also come at a cost. Although these costs can be small, patients can will often have frequent visits to specialists, doctors and hospitals. As a result, this can increase the cost dramatically over a short period of time.
Patients who require overnight stays at hospitals for example, can expect to pay on average $10,000.
8. Experimental Treatment And Treatment Not Covered By Insurance
When treatments are not working or when a patient has tried every treatment available in the US, patients and their families can make a decision to research alternative treatments or new treatments that have not been approved. Patients who want to receive treatment overseas can also be limited by their finances.
As this can have greater risk, many health insurance policies will not cover the cost of these treatments. Financial assistance can help patients and their family overcome the financial barrier that can often stop them from receiving treatment elsewhere.
9. Home Care
Leukemia financial assistance can help families cover the cost of home care. When undergoing treatment for leukemia, patients can choose to receive home care or require home care as part of their treatment plan. This can happen when a patient is no longer required to reside in a hospital for treatment. This can be costly as patients will have to cover the cost of equipment, drugs and visits from specially trained nurses and other health professionals.
10. Accommodation Costs
Financial assistance can also be used to pay for any accommodation costs involved during the course of treatment. For patients receiving treatment out of state or who live a substantial distance from the medical provider, accommodation can also be a high cost. For parents caring for a child with leukemia, relocating the whole family may not be the best solution. Instead, families will often opted for temporary accommodation as means to access treatment quickly if required.
1) The High Cost of Leukemia Treatment: http://www.everydayhealth.com/leukemia/the-high-cost-of-leukemia-treatment.aspx
2) Cost analysis of the treatment of acute childhood lymphocytic leukaemia according to Nordic protocols: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10830464
3) Costs for Hospital Stays in the United States, 2010: http://www.hcup-us.ahrq.gov/reports/statbriefs/sb146.jsp
4) Managing the Costs of Your Cancer Treatment: http://www.cancer.org/treatment/findingandpayingfortreatment/managinginsuranceissues/the-cost-of-cancer-treatment
5) NerdWallet Health finds Medical Bankruptcy accounts for majority of personal bankruptcies: http://www.nerdwallet.com/blog/health/2014/03/26/medical-bankruptcy/
More Leukemia Cancer Financial Assistance Resources
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- Imatinib drug unaffordable for chronic myeloid leukemia patients Recently, a group of more than 100 chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) experts analyzed the high cost of tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) within the context of CML. Although, targeted therapy constituted by provides substantial survival benefits, the drug prices are too high. These experts are of the view that current prices of drugs against CML are ... Read more