You have just been diagnosed with Cancer and you have no idea how you are going to pay the bill for your diagnosis, let alone the future bills. You are not alone, many of us have had had this same stark realization. Some of us, who felt that we had a sound financial plan for the future, have found out that a catastrophic illness can destroy that plan. Hopefully, your treatment requirements will be financially manageable and you have the resources to pay for them. If not, you may have to look at other methods of financial assistance.
First, take a look at resources that may already be available to you, such as employer related disability payments and disability benefits you may have carried on mortgage, credit card, and loan accounts. You may be able to take a portion of an employer related retirement benefit on a hardship withdrawal basis. If you belong to a fraternal organization, such as the VFW, Elks, Lions Club, etc.; you may be able to find some assistance there.
Next, ask your oncologist or the social service department of your treating medical institution. Be honest with these professionals and tell them about your financial concerns. Many treating facilities, hospitals, and cancer care centers have programs for financially assisting cancer patients. They may be able to steer you to a representative for these programs. Call your local American Cancer Society office. They offer many programs of assistance and have information on others offered in your community.
Don't forget to look at the other pages of financial help information on this website:
There are ways to increase your financial resources, so that you can pay for the necessary care you will need to get through your cancer journey. Please take a look at the other pages on this website for Medication, Travel, and Health Insurance Assistance. If you are no longer able to earn an income because of your own physical condition or that of a child, you may want to contact these US government programs:
Social Security Disability Planner
Social Security Supplemental Security Income
Temporary Assistance for Needy Families
Social Service Departments - US - By State
If you have an immediate need for financial assistance that may be limited to a single financial situation, you may want to look at these programs or organizations for assistance:
National Association for the Terminally Ill - provides financial help with small, immediate needs.
Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program - list of state directors to contact.
Nutrition Assistance Program - provides low-income people access to food.
National Children's Cancer Society - financial aid for treatments done through cooperating medical facilities.
US 211 Initiative - relatively new US system gives access to health and human services information and referral.
Another good source for emergency assistance is religious organizations in your community. Many of the churches in my home town have emergency food cupboards and financial funds for families in need. We also have a privately funded agency that operates as a clearing house for all other agencies that operate under private donations. This agency looks at your needs and notifies any other agencies that may be able to meet those needs. Check with your Human Services Department and ask if your community has this. Also, check with your local Salvation Army. Look in your telephone book to see if you might qualify for Lifeline telephone payment assistance. Call your utility supplier to see if they have any emergency funds to help pay for your heat or electric.
Free services that can assist you in achieving or maintaining financial independence during your cancer journey include:
American Cancer Society
Administration on Aging - for those 60 and over.
Cancer Care, Inc - financial assistance programs.
Credit Counseling Centers of America
Here are a few organizations that help with medical expenses for specific situations:
Bone Marrow Foundation - created to fill the financial gap transplant patients may experience during treatment.
Hill-Burton Programs - US program to help low income patients pay health care expenses not covered by insurance.
Kelly Anne Dolan Memorial Fund - for childhood cancer patients.
Leukemia and Lymphoma Society - provides supplementary financial assistance to patients, with leukemia or lymphoma, in significant financial need.
Operation Smile - provides reconstructive surgery to indigent children/young adults in developing countries and the US.