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The cost of cancer treatment can be staggering. The average cost of treating one patient with cancer is $5,000 per month, according to the American Cancer Society. Even with insurance, many patients find their expenses stretch beyond their means. Fortunately, there are a number of ways to pay for treatment, and it’s important to do so before your financial situation gets worse. Here are some tips on how you can pay for your cancer treatment and stay financially stable during this trying time.
Be proactive about finding financing options before your financial situation gets worse.
If you are facing treatment costs that are becoming unmanageable, it is important to begin looking into ways to pay for your care. Often times, people delay seeking financial assistance because they believe the situation is already dire. However, it is possible to find sources of financing before you find yourself in this situation. One of the most significant ways to save money on cancer treatment is to find a patient financing program. Patient assistance programs help patients who don’t qualify for other types of financing. They typically provide long-term financing in the form of a loan that happens to be forgiven after the patient’s term expires. These loans can often be cheaper than other financing options.
Know what medical debt is and how to avoid it.
One of the most important things you can do when trying to find financing is to know what you are doing when it comes to avoiding medical debt. Medical debt is the result of a hospital or other medical provider charging you for services that were provided to you. The problem is, in most cases you have little control over what is charged to your insurance. Some health care providers are known to charge significantly more than others—there is no rhyme or reason to some of these costs—and you may end up paying out-of-pocket even if your insurance pays a portion of the bill. In order to avoid medical debt, you need to be familiar with what your health insurance policy covers and what it does not. You also need to make sure that you are familiar with the cost of anything your health care provider recommends you do. If you know what your medical debt is, you will be able to take steps to avoid it.
Understand why insurance is important but not always a viable option.
Insurance is not a magic bullet. You may find that it is not possible to get insurance coverage for your treatment. For example, many insurance plans do not cover cancer treatment that is covered by Medicare or Medicaid and may have exclusion clauses in their coverage agreements. In these cases, you will need to find other ways to cover your costs. Some people choose to fundraise or offer treatment bequests to friends, family, or community members. If you are struggling to cover your costs, don’t hesitate to ask your doctor for a referral to a provider who will work with you to find financing options.
Find an employer or other source of benefits coverage.
Another way to save on cancer treatment is to find a way to get insurance coverage for it. If you have a high-deductible health plan, you may find that your expenses after a certain amount are covered by your insurance. If you have access to a medical leave or health care Flexible Spending Account (FSA), you may also find that you can get coverage for your treatment. Again, your situation may dictate whether or not you are able to access these benefits. If you are unable to find a way to get coverage for your health care costs, you may need to consider if it is worth continuing treatment and how long you can wait before putting your finances at risk.
Talk to your doctor about the cost of treatment.
Before you begin to consider financing options, it is important to have a conversation with your doctor about the cost of treatment. Schedule an appointment and ask your doctor what they expect your treatment to cost and how they would like to be paid. Some doctors are willing to accept credit cards, while others will only take cash. Your doctor may also have an account with a payment service that they could use to make payments. This conversation is important not only to determine how you will be paid, but also to begin to plan financially for your future.
Don’t be afraid to negotiate with healthcare providers.
If you are still struggling to pay for your care, don’t be afraid to negotiate with your provider. Most providers will work with you to find a payment plan if you are unable to pay all at once. Again, don’t be afraid to ask for help. It is important to remember that your provider is in this business because they want to help you stay well so that you can continue to contribute to your community.
While the costs of cancer treatment are significant, they do not need to come at the expense of your financial security. With careful planning, you can make it through this difficult time with as little financial impact as possible. In addition, you can find assistance with managing your costs, such as insurance coverage and patient financing programs. Start thinking about how you will pay for treatment now so that you are prepared when your finances get worse. Healthy financial management can help you make it through this difficult time.