It is not uncommon for people facing cancer to have questions and concerns about the cost of their treatment. Dawn Deacon, RN, BSN, OCN, ONN-CG, Thoracic Oncology Navigator at Sarah Cannon Cancer Institute at HCA Midwest Health, addresses some of the most commonly asked questions about financial needs that patients may have about their treatment.
How much is it going to cost & what am I responsible for?
Every patient and situation is unique, so there is no single, overarching answer. However, it is important that patients understand how to be their own advocate when it comes to their healthcare treatment and insurance benefits. As a Nurse Navigator, I can discuss with patients their financial concerns, and help direct them to the resources that can be most helpful to them. To prepare financially I encourage patients to contact their insurance provider to make them aware of the diagnosis, and ask questions about copays, deductibles and more. Insurance companies often have Navigators who are available to discuss the specific details with the patient.
How will I pay for my cancer treatment? Do I need to keep working?
This largely depends on the patient’s occupation, personal needs and the anticipated side effects and recovery time from treatments. For example, do they have a job where they can continue working at least some of the time in order to maintain insurance and an income? Doctors are generally supportive of patients remaining active through their treatment; however, there may be times when working might not be practical or safe. Discussing your concerns and plans with your care team is very important. The stage of the cancer can also play a role in determining each person’s journey. For patients with stage IV cancer, I would encourage them to check if they meet the requirements for social security disability if their disease or treatment makes them unable to work.
What can I do to help mitigate the cost of treatment?
The cost of treatment varies by disease site as well as based on the types and frequency of treatments. At Sarah Cannon Cancer Institute at HCA Midwest Health, we have a financial counselor who makes sure that the prescribed treatment is a covered benefit for the patient. Pharmaceutical companies have programs for uninsured and underinsured patients to help them afford many of the drug therapies we use for treatment. It is important for each patient to ask questions and work with his or her care team if they are experiencing financial difficulties. Patients who understand their insurance coverage are better equipped to know what their needs are and ask for help.
At Sarah Cannon, Nurse Navigators work together with patients and their families to make sure that each person has access to the best therapy in their cancer journey. If you have questions about resources in your community, you can talk to a nurse at askSARAH at (844) 482-4812.