A diagnosis of cancer can quickly impose an economic burden on you and your family, especially if you’re in a lower income brackets. Costs for surgery, other treatments and medication can mount, even if you have insurance and are dealing only with co-payments. If treatment at a faraway facility is recommended, long-distance travel costs can escalate quickly, too.
A variety of organizations and programs provide services such as transportation to treatment, access to medications or lodging, or other necessities. One or more of the services below may be able to provide some relief.
- The Patient Travel Referral program, a program of Mercy Medical Angels, aims to “ensure that no ﬁnancially-needy patient is denied access to distant specialized medical evaluation, diagnosis or treatment for lack of a means.” The program provides both information on various forms of charitable, long-distance medically-related transportation and referrals to sources in the national charitable medical transportation network. Visit www.patienttravel.org for details.
- Hope Lodge is a service of the American Cancer Society. Lodges throughout the country provide temporary free housing for cancer patients who need outpatient treatment. A complete list can be obtained by going to www.cancer.org/treatment/support-programs-and-services/patient-lodging/hope-lodge.html. The emphasis is on providing a nurturing, home-like environment that is conducive to healing.
- Another ACS program, Road to Recovery, provides transportation to treatments locally for cancer patients who need it. Visit www.cancer.org/treatment/support-programs-and-services/road-to-recovery.html.
- CancerCare, www.cancercare.org, 800-813-HOPE, is a national nonprofit organization based in New York that provides transportation, some medications for treating side effects, and childcare costs to cancer patients in need of those services. Grants vary greatly depending on individuals’ need and expenses.
- Needy Meds, www.needymeds.com, is nonprofit organization that maintains a website of free information on programs for people who aren’t able to afford medications and/or healthcare costs.
- Hill-Burton Act This federal program provides construction and improvement funds to hospitals with strings attached — i.e., the facilities must provide some amount of care free of charge to those who cannot afford to pay. For more information, visit www.hhs.gov/civil-rights/for-individuals/hill-burton/index.html.
- The National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program, administered through the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, gives states the option of providing medical assistance through the Medicaid program to eligible women. Eligibility requires that women were screened through the CDC’s NBCCEDP’s program and found to have breast or cervical cancer or pre-cancers. To find a local screening provider, visit www.cdc.gov/cancer/nbccedp/screenings.htm.
- Cancer Financial Assistance Coalition (CFAC) is a coalition of financial assistance organizations joining forces to help cancer patients experience better health and well-being by limiting financial challenges, through educating patients and providers about existing resources and advocating on behalf of patients. Among CFAC’s member organizations are the American Cancer Society, CancerCare, the National Marrow Donor Program and nine more. While CFAC cannot respond to individual requests for assistance, the group maintains a database of resources searchable by diagnosis, type of aid (housing, expenses, prosthetics) and zip code. To perform a resource search, visit www.cancerfac.org.
- Patient Services Inc. has been providing a safety net for people with a number of diseases since 1989. The group offers assistance in locating insurance, subsidizing premium, treatment and pharmacy costs, and advocating for patients with Medicare and Social Security Disability. Check the site www.patientservicesinc.org to see if your condition is one of those aided by Patient Services, Inc.
- Patient Access Network Foundation (PAN), aids people afford the copayments for cancer or chronic disease medications. Patients aided by PAN have insurance but lack the funds for out-of-pocket expenses. To find out if you are eligible, visit www.panfoundation.org or call 866-316-PANF (7263).
- Joe’s House is a nonprofit organization providing a nationwide online service that helps cancer patients and their families find lodging near treatments centers. Their website, www.joeshouse.org, lists cancer treatment centers and hospitals around the country with nearby lodging facilities that offer a discount. The site also lists lodging chain partners offering discounts. Joe’s House can also be reached by calling 877-JOESHOU (877-563-7468).
- Partnership for Prescription Assistance, helps qualifying patients without prescription drug coverage get the medicines they need by putting them in touch any one of hundreds of programs tailored for different needs and conditions. Visit their site, at www.pparx.org, for more information and to determine your eligibility
- Catholic Charities’ website, https://catholiccharitiesusa.org/find-help, offers a searchable database of member organizations around the nation, including groups that offer programs to help families meet the costs of medical care.
- United Way, http://liveunited.org/our-work/health/, provides assistance around the nation and advocates on health issues. The best way to find aid is to contact your local United Way campaign office. Check their database for information: http://apps.liveunited.org/myuw/.
- Cancer Finances, a partnership between Triage Cancer and the Samfund, provides an online toolkit to assist cancer patients and survivors in making sound financial decisions before, during and after treatment. Go to cancerfinances.org.