If the coronavirus pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that being sick in America is scary. Not only does one have to deal with the distress of being physically unwell, but one also has to deal with the specter of financial uncertainty.
If you live in the U.S. and you have health insurance (which is not always a guarantee), there is a high chance that if you fall ill, you will be burdened with a mountain of medical debt for years to come.
This dilemma is especially severe for folks diagnosed with cancer. If you are undergoing treatment for cancer, not only are you struggling with the physical and emotional effects of the disease but, in all likelihood, you are forced to confront a mountain of hospital bills.
Experts call this problem Cancer-Related Financial Toxicity (CRFT). According to the nonprofit organization Triage Cancer, Cancer-Related Financial Toxicity is a term “used to describe the distress or hardship arising from the financial burden of cancer treatment.”
According to the American Journal of Medicine, cancer patients are 2.65 times more likely to file for bankruptcy than those without cancer. That same study revealed that 42% of cancer patients from 2000 to 2012 drained their entire life savings within two years of being diagnosed.
The struggle to pay bills can feel overwhelming–and not just because cancer treatment in America is unspeakably expensive. The landmark “Death or Debt” study found that up to 85% of cancer patients stop working during their initial treatment. And these absences can last up to 6 months. That means cancer often prevents folks from paying their bills. For many, the financial burden becomes too much to bear.
Luckily, there are altruistic organizations out there whose sole purpose is to provide financial assistance to people with cancer who are struggling financially. Read on for a list of organizations that offer financial help to cancer patients.
According to their website, CancerCare offers “limited financial assistance for cancer-related costs and co-pays.” On top of that, they also employ a network of oncology social workers who can help you find additional financial resources.
2. Family Reach
Family Reach is a financial assistance program helping cancer patients since 2003. According to their website, they “provide thousands of families in cancer treatment with critical financial assistance, planning, and education.” Their Emergency Relief program helps cover basic life essentials like housing, transportation, utilities, childcare, and groceries.
If you or a loved one is in a situation where air travel is necessary for their specific course of treatment, then Corporate Angel Network might be able to help you. This charitable organization’s mission is to “transport cancer patients to the hospital at which they need to be in order to receive a specialized form of treatment” at no cost.
Samfund/Expect Miracles Foundation is a not-for-profit organization that specifically caters to young adults (people in their 20s and 30s) to “move forward towards their personal, professional, and academic goals” after they’ve undergone cancer treatment. Their grants are there to help young folks get back on their feet after they’ve been financially impacted by cancer.
The HealthWell Foundation assists patients whose health insurance isn’t helping enough. Their mission is to “reduce financial barriers to care for underinsured patients with chronic or life-altering diseases.” They help with the costs of premiums, copays, deductibles, and other out-of-pocket expenses.