Financial Relief: 5 Tips for Managing Your Own Finances
5 Tips for Finding Resources to Get Financial Relief
This is part 4 of Wellist's Financial Toxicity Miniseries. Financial toxicity in oncology is explored here, we also listed the 7 causes of financial toxicity, and potential solutions to financial toxicity.
In this section we will suggest potential strategies for finding resources to help manage costs at an individual level.
Tip #1: Start Planning As Early As Possible
Planning for the financial implications of a cancer diagnosis is crucial. Understand that there are resources from providers and government organizations to help. Resources often take time to find and register for, so the earlier the process starts, the better.
Also, many resources are disease specific or demographic specific. For example, support is available for Leukemia and Lymphoma patients through the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (https://www.lls.org/), but this support is not available to all oncology types. Know which categories you might fall into Cancer.org provides a good document to help you think large scale about the costs of cancer: access it here.
Tip #2: Use Provider Resources
Many hospitals and cancer treatment centers have people devoted to helping manage their patients financial situations. They are social workers, financial advisors, or others but they might be the most valuable resource to use. They can provide specific ideas and help you develop a personalized strategy for managing financial toxicity.
Tip #3: Find Prescription Assistance Programs for Medication
Prescription co-pays are one of the largest financial burdens for cancer patients.
There are many resources available to help with these costs. Agencies and charities often have drug cards that can either help with copays or help if a patient's insurance runs out. Another great resource is http://www.needymeds.org/. It lists many assistance programs offered by pharmaceutical companies.
Tip #4: Read Your Bills Closely
There is a high ratio of errors in medical bills. Make sure that the hospital is not accidentally overcharging you. Consider having professional help negotiating or reduce your medical bills. US News has a helpful piece on this here.
Another useful resource is CoPatient, professionals specialised in assisting with medical bills.
Tip #5: Explore Cancer Support Networks and Databases
Organizations like http://www.cancer.net/ , http://managecancer.org/ , and http://www.knowcancer.com/ are large groups that list many potential resources. These resources include small, specific grants to meet out-of-hospital needs and costs. CancerCare offers a free hotline to speak with an oncology social worker (check it out at http://www.cancercare.org/counseling or call 800‑813‑HOPE (4673)).
These are great starting resources to help get the search going in the right direction. Other organizations, including faith based groups, are great resources to help manage the burden of cancer.
Bonus Tip: Use Your Informal Networks
Your family and community are great resources to help with the cost burden of cancer. While crowdfunding can be a bit confusing, it could be useful for you and rewarding for your supporters. The Wellistry from Wellist is a great tool for this, as it allows direct gifts from a support network to provide a specific helpful service. Wellist also does not take a percentage of the donation, unlike other crowdfunding sites, making this service completely free to use.
Having people help with specific challenges will help manage costs outside of the hospital.
Cancer is a complex, challenging and expensive disease. Fortunately there are a lot of resources to help cancer patients get through it! If you are looking for a place to start, consider signing up at Wellist to receive a free personalized list of helpful services.
-The Wellist Team