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Your loved one may have anxiety about the potential cost of medical care. In a poll of people with head and neck cancer, half were very worried about their finances.1Chaturvedi SK, Shenoy A, Prasad KM, Senthilnathan SM, Premlatha BS. Concerns, coping and quality of life in head and neck cancer patients. Support Care Cancer. 1996 May;4(3):186-90.

Let’s first explore the insurance options, which can help reduce some of the costs associated with cancer care.

Types of insurance

  • Employer provided insurance: In the U.S., medical insurance coverage is predominantly provided by employers.2Ward E, Halpern M, Schrag N, et al. Association of insurance with cancer care utilization and outcomes. CA Cancer J Clin. 2008 Jan-Feb;58(1):9-31. Retaining this type of insurance is contingent upon employment.2Ward E, Halpern M, Schrag N, et al. Association of insurance with cancer care utilization and outcomes. CA Cancer J Clin. 2008 Jan-Feb;58(1):9-31.
  • Medicare: To qualify for Medicare, the beneficiary (or partner) must have paid into Social Security for 10 years or more.2Ward E, Halpern M, Schrag N, et al. Association of insurance with cancer care utilization and outcomes. CA Cancer J Clin. 2008 Jan-Feb;58(1):9-31. Then, upon reaching the age of 65, the beneficiary will be signed on automatically to receive this type of insurance. If your loved one is in his or her mid-60s, this may be an option.There are sometimes other ways for your loved one to enroll in Medicare; if you think your loved one may need Medicare, inquire with the state’s Medicaid program to learn the details about the eligibility requirements.
  • Medicaid: Medicaid is primarily for patients with low incomes or who are disabled.2Ward E, Halpern M, Schrag N, et al. Association of insurance with cancer care utilization and outcomes. CA Cancer J Clin. 2008 Jan-Feb;58(1):9-31. If the cancer patient is uninsured, this may be an option to explore.
  • High-risk pools: Some states provide individual insurance to those who would be unable to acquire private insurance.

Additional medical care costs

Even if your loved one has insurance, there will be additional costs associated with treatment. First, there will be direct financial costs. Insurance will have deductibles and necessitate out-of-pocket payment for some medications.3Kim P. Cost of cancer care: the patient perspective. J Clin Oncol. 2007 Jan 10;25(2):228-32.

There will also be indirect financial costs, which will include expenses essential to obtaining treatment, such as transportation costs to and from appointments or costs for temporary lodging if treatment at a far-away location is selected.3Kim P. Cost of cancer care: the patient perspective. J Clin Oncol. 2007 Jan 10;25(2):228-32. Insurance will not pay for indirect financial costs associated with treatment.

In the next section, we will explore options for additional financial assistance.


References

1 Chaturvedi SK, Shenoy A, Prasad KM, Senthilnathan SM, Premlatha BS. Concerns, coping and quality of life in head and neck cancer patients. Support Care Cancer. 1996 May;4(3):186-90.

2 Ward E, Halpern M, Schrag N, et al. Association of insurance with cancer care utilization and outcomes. CA Cancer J Clin. 2008 Jan-Feb;58(1):9-31.

3 Kim P. Cost of cancer care: the patient perspective. J Clin Oncol. 2007 Jan 10;25(2):228-32.