Health Insurance and Financial Assistance for the Cancer Patient

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Financial issues: Getting help with living expenses

The major costs of a cancer diagnosis and treatment are for things like time in the hospital, clinic visits, medicines, tests and procedures, home health services, and the services of doctors and other professionals. Insurance, managed care, or public health care programs pay most of these costs if you are covered in such a plan.

But families face many indirect costs and other expenses because of cancer and its treatment, along with their usual bills. These costs can be for things like:

  • Travel (gas and parking) to doctor visits, clinics, hospitals, and treatment appointments
  • Lodging (a place for the patient and/or family to stay) during treatment away from home
  • Meals during travel or clinic visits
  • Extra child care costs
  • Communication (phone calls, faxes, copies of medical records, etc.) with doctors, friends, and relatives
  • Special foods and nutritional supplements
  • Special equipment or clothing

Also, a cancer treatment plan can cause family members to lose time at work and, in some cases, all or part of their salary. Even more money is lost if a family member has to quit a job or take an extended leave of absence. Of course, costs increase as treatment is extended, if there are treatment complications, or if the cancer comes back (recurs). This section offers just a few ideas of where you might be able to get some help dealing with the costs of cancer. See the “To learn more” section for other resources that may be useful to you.

Last Medical Review: 02/16/2015
Last Revised: 02/16/2015