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Insurance

  • 56437178_8Employer-provided Insurance: In the United States, medical insurance coverage is predominantly provided by employers.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. One of the challenges, however, is that retaining this type of insurance is contingent upon employment, which may be compromised by a diagnosis with cancer and its related complications.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. If you need time off to treat your cancer, you may want to see if you qualify for time off (up to 12 weeks) through the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). If you qualify for FMLA leave time, it may be paid or unpaid, depending on your employment situation, but it guarantees that you will be able to retain your insurance during that time.
  • Medicare: To qualify for Medicare, the beneficiary (or partner) must have paid into Social Security for 10 years or more.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. Then, when the beneficiary reaches the age of 65, he or she will be automatically signed on to receive this type of insurance. If you are in your mid-60s, this may be an option for you. There are sometimes other ways to become enrolled in Medicare; if you think that you may need Medicare, then you should query your state’s Medicaid program to find the details about eligibility requirements.
  • Medicaid: Medicaid is primarily for patients with low income or who are disabled.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. If you are uninsured, this may be an option that you can explore.

Even if you are insured, many insurance programs still require co-payments for medications or services, which can be very costly. In addition, if you decide that you would prefer to be treated at a center located far from your home, you may incur other costs not provided by insurance. If this applies, you may consider looking into Assistance Programs.


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 National Cancer Institute Website. Accessed at http://www.cancer.gov/ on February 19, 2013.

4 Benefits.gov website. Accessed at http://www.benefits.gov/benefits/browse-by-category/category/MED on February 19, 2013.