Financial Assistance for Breast Cancer Patients
The Costs of Breast Cancer
The financial costs associated with breast cancer treatment can be a strain on families, even with health insurance. Medical costs in the U.S. associated with breast cancer reached $16.5 billion last year and costs only continue to rise. Researchers believe breast cancer costs alone could reach $21 to $26 billion by 2020.
New breast cancer drugs can costs $100,000 or more a year, and important follow-up care continues long after treatment- some times for the remainder of a patient’s life. While new technologies are introduced as resources, they also bring in an added financial cost. Proton therapy, for example, is a new high-tech treatment- twice as expensive as conventional radiation but with no proof to be more effective. The financial toll on an individual can leave many breast cancer patients looking for help.
The financial strain on breast cancer patients is showing. Medical bills are the leading cause of bankruptcies in the U.S. and one-quarter of U.S. cancer patients put off getting a test or treatment because of the cost. One study estimated that breast cancer patients pay on average $712 a month in out-of-pocket medical expenses and few know where to find financial assistance.
Where to Find Help
The first place to find financial assistance may be with your doctor. Some drugs may have cheaper alternatives available. Also, the billing office may be able to help by creating a billing plan to spread payment over time.
Realizing the huge demand for financial assistance for breast cancer patients, several organizations have popped up in recent years. The Miles of Hope Breast Cancer Foundation gives around $250 to $1,000 to select applicants. The Pink Fund also works to give up to $1,800 to cover rent, utilities or other expenses. Government programs also exist to help patients. Medicaid provides health insurance for low-income families who meet requirements. Some breast cancer patients may also qualify for Social Security disability benefits. While these can be great resources for some, demand is high and resources may be low.
Finally, raising money online for yourself or a loved one may be one way to provide financial assistance. Starting a personal online fundraising website allows friends and family to not only donate to help cover the cost of medical bills, but also provide emotional support.
Breast cancer, and continued treatment can be a very expensive illness. It’s important to find what resources are available to you and talk to your doctor about reducing your expenses.
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