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Programs and Resources to Help With Cancer-related Expenses

People with cancer can have many expenses related to the costs of cancer treatment and care. They might need to pay for transportation, lodging, food, and more. This is in addition to day-to-day expenses like rent or a mortgage, car payments, and food or childcare.

People with cancer and their family members might have to miss work because of treatment or side effects. This can lead to a loss of all or part of their salary (see Working During Cancer Treatment).

If you are not able to work, you might quality for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). These programs are designed to help people who can’t work because of disabilities. Cancer is often is considered a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Many people find it hard to turn to others or to public agencies and outside groups for help. The extra expenses of cancer may be the first time a family has had problems with money.

But there are resources to help with some of these costs. Ask your cancer care team if they can suggest people or groups that might be able to help. A social worker or patient navigator can also be helpful. They can suggest resources to help with health care costs, transportation, lodging, food and other needs.

Here are some ideas of where you might be able to get help with some of the costs of cancer and cancer treatment.


Help with short-term housing near the cancer treatment center

Some people with cancer may need to travel far from home for treatment. Many treatment centers have short-term housing or discount programs set up with nearby motels and hotels. The social worker, patient navigator, or oncology nurse might know about no-cost or low-cost housing near the hospital or clinic.

The American Cancer Society Hope Lodge®. This program offers families a free place to stay when cancer treatment is given far from home. Contact us to find out if there’s a Hope Lodge location near your treatment center.

Extended Stay America has partnered with the American Cancer Society to offer discounted rooms for people who have to be away from home for cancer treatment. Contact us to find out more about this program.

Healthcare Hospitality Network is a group of nearly 200 non-profit organizations throughout the US that provide free or low-cost lodging to families getting medical treatment far from home. You can check online to see if they have a location that works for you.

Ronald McDonald House. This housing is for children with cancer who have to travel to a pediatric center for treatment. They provide low-cost or free housing for patients and their immediate families, or any family with a seriously ill child.

Families must be referred by medical staff or social workers at the treatment facility to stay at a Ronald McDonald House. Check with your cancer care team’s social worker or nurse to learn more. Or, you can contact Ronald McDonald House Charities at 630-623-7048 or

Medicaid. If you have Medicaid, check with your state Medicaid provider to see if it offers lodging assistance. Not all Medicaid plans cover the cost of short-term housing during cancer treatment.

Veterans Administration (VA) may be able to help veterans with travel and lodging.


Help with caregiver expenses

Some states have Cash and Counseling Programs that can directly pay some caregivers. You can find out if your state has a program by contacting your local Medicaid office, social services, or health department. The Veterans Administration also has some programs that include payments for caregivers.


Help with housing needs or mortgage payments

The costs of cancer treatment or a loss of family income can make it hard for families to pay their mortgage or rent on time. To keep a good credit rating and stay in your home, talk with your creditor or landlord about your situation and try to make special arrangements. Family, friends, or church members may be able to give you short-term help if they’re told about the problem. And talk to the cancer care team social worker who may know of special resources.

Families who need to move out of their homes after a cancer diagnosis should talk with their county department of social services to find out if they can get into low-cost or government-supported housing programs. In some states this may be listed under the health department or welfare department.


Help with transportation costs

The American Cancer Society Road To Recovery program is available in many areas. Trained volunteers drive patients and families to hospitals and clinics for treatment. Call the American Cancer Society at 1-800-227-2345 to see whether this program is available in your area.

People who have Medicaid or Medicare might be able to get help with travel to medical centers and doctors’ offices for cancer treatment. This may take the form of payment or being paid back (reimbursed) for gas, payment of bus fare, or may mean using a vanpool. County departments of social services in each state arrange for help with transportation.

Local transit services may offer lower cost transportation. Check with your local public transit agency to find out how they could help you.

People who are disabled and not able to get to or ride fixed-route public transportation may be able to get paratransit (door-to-door) services. The options and costs vary, so check with your local public transit agency to see what is available in your area.

The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, through its Patient Aid Program, can help some people with cancer with the cost of gas and parking for outpatient treatment. This program is for people with blood cancers (leukemia, lymphoma, and myeloma). There’s a limit on the amount of financial help each person with cancer can get each year. Check with your team social worker about this program or contact the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society at 1-800-955-4572 or visit

Mercy Medical Angels provides cost-effective non-emergency transportation for patients. This might include gas cards, or bus, train, or airfare for long distance travel. This organization partners with volunteers, along with private or commercial transportation providers. To find out if you are eligible for this service, you can find more information online at

NeedyMeds lists programs that can help with medical transportation services or travel expenses for people that have no other way to pay.

Community and church groups may also be sources of help with travel or its costs. Also, talk to your cancer care team social worker about getting help with hospital or clinic parking fees.


Help with food costs

Some government programs help with food or food costs for low-income people. The programs listed below are from the US Department of Agriculture (although some are run by states) for different groups of people. And each may offer food help in different ways.

Some families may qualify for more than one type of help. For more information about these programs, call the National Hunger Hotline at 1-866-348-6479 (1-866-3-HUNGRY); for Spanish, call 1-877-842-6273. Or visit

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)

Formerly the Food Stamp Program, SNAP is the best known government program. It lets people shop for food in grocery stores using a special Electronic Benefits Transfer card, much like a bank card.

To ask about SNAP by phone, call your state or local health department, or social services department or call 1-800-221-5689 to get the local number.

Meals on Wheels

This program is designed for people who are disabled, homebound, or elderly. Volunteers deliver ready-to-eat meals to your home. Costs or fees vary depending on your age and where you live. Contact Meals on Wheels at 888-998-6325 or visit their website at

Church groups can also be a good resource. They may have food pantries or other assistance for people who need help with food costs.


Help finding and paying for dental care

Some people with cancer might need to see a dentist before starting treatment. Dental care needs can vary from an exam and cleaning to extraction of teeth that are not healthy. If you don’t have dental insurance or your insurance only covers part of the cost, you may need to look for other resources in your community.

NeedyMeds has a database of dental clinics that offer free dental care or care based on your ability to pay.

The US Department of Health and Human Services provides links to low-cost dental care providers, such as:

  • Community health centers
  • Medicare, Medicaid and CHIP
  • Veterans Affairs
  • Dental schools
  • may be able to help you find dental resources in your community
  • Your state or local health department may be able to direct you to programs in your area that offer free or reduced-cost dental care.

 For more help finding or paying for the dental services you need in your area, see if your cancer care team has a social worker or navigator that could help you find local resources.


Help with other expenses

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) is a grant program for people with low incomes. It provides monthly payments to help pay for food, clothing, housing, utilities, transportation, phone, medical supplies not covered by Medicaid, and other basic needs. (TANF also helps states provide training and jobs for the people in welfare programs.)

A social worker can tell you about your state’s plan or contact your local health or social services department. You can visit them online at


Help with internet access

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has an Affordable Connectivity Program run by Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC).  This programs helps lower the cost of internet access if your income is low enough. Call your local internet provider or visit to learn more about this program.

You may notice that many groups and organizations now have a lot of information on the Internet, and it may be harder to call or reach a real person to ask questions. If you don’t have Internet access, you may want to see if your local public library offers use of their computers and Internet access at no cost. An added benefit is that volunteers or staff there may be able to help if you’re having trouble finding things.

Still, you don’t need Internet access to find help. The American Cancer Society and many other organizations also provide toll-free phone numbers so that people without Internet access can learn about and ask for services.

You can reach the American Cancer Society at 800-227-2345 any time of day or night. We’re here when you need us.


Need more information?

National Aging and Disability Transportation Center/Eldercare Locator
Toll-free number: 1-800-677-1116

National Association of Area Agencies on Aging
Toll-free number:1-800-677-1116

National Hunger Hotline
Toll-free number: 1-866-348-6479 (1-866-3-HUNGRY)
for Spanish, call 1-877-842-6273

United Way of America and the Alliance of Information and Referral Systems

Call 211 to find out if help is available in your area.

The Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC)
Toll-free number: 1-888-641-8722

The American Cancer Society medical and editorial content team

Our team is made up of doctors and oncology certified nurses with deep knowledge of cancer care as well as journalists, editors, and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.

Healthcare Hospitality Network (HHN). Find lodging. Accessed at on August 14, 2023.

HelpAdvisor. A Guide to Medicaid Cash and Counseling Programs. Accessed at on August 15, 2023.

Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Financial support. Accessed at on August 14, 2023.

Meals on Wheels America. Meals on wheels and healthcare. Accessed at on August 14, 2023.

Mercy Medical Angels. Request assistance. Accessed at on August 14, 2023.

National Aging and Disability Transportation Center. Aging and Disability Transportation Overview. Accessed at transportation-overview/ on August 14, 2023.

National Association of Area Agencies on Aging (n4a). Health insurance assistance. Accessed at on August 14, 2023.

Ronald McDonald House (RMHC). Ronald McDonald House. Accessed at on August 14, 2023.

United Way (2-1-1). How we help. Accessed at on August 14, 2023.

US Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Medicaid and you: frequently asked questions. Assessed at on August 14, 2023.

US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). About TANF. Accessed at on August 14, 2023.

US Department of Veterans Affairs. VA Aid and Attendance Benefits and Housebound Allowance. Accessed at on August 15, 2023.

WhyHunger (why). Resources: Find Food. Accessed at August 14, 2023.


Last Revised: December 20, 2023

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