Don’t Let Cancer Drive You Into Debt
The last thing you want to worry about when you have cancer is money. But it’s often a real concern. Find out how patient assistance programs can help.
A cancer diagnosis brings a lot of worries with it. One of the biggest — and least discussed — is money.
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Even if you have good insurance, all those co-pays add up — to say nothing of the time you might miss from work, the clothes you may need to buy as your body changes, and the extra help with housework or childcare that you may need to pay for.
Fortunately, there are a number of things you can do to help weather the financial storm. You’ll likely start by taking a close look at your own budget, but there are also agencies and programs that can help with costs or advocate for you if you’re struggling to pay your bills.
Managing your finances during cancer treatment isn’t just about getting assistance. Creating a budget may sound like a drag, but it’s a good first step. It can actually help you feel more in control.
Be realistic about your anticipated income and expenses each month. Cut back where you can to free up money for your care. It may help to keep in mind that in many cases, the sacrifices are temporary. But don’t forget to leave money to treat yourself now and then if you can; self-care is important, too.
Once you know where you stand with your budget, it’s time to take steps to apply for financial assistance for cancer-related costs. Here are just a few organizations that may offer help:
In addition to national organizations, there are often local resources that can help as well.
Don’t hesitate to talk to an oncology social worker at the facility that’s treating you. This person is likely the best source for information about assistance in your area. Local organizations can sometimes help with everything from wigs to utility bills.
For many people, a serious illness like cancer can significantly damage financial stability. If you’re behind on your mortgage or have bill collectors calling about credit cards or medical debt, don’t try to ignore it.
Reach out to your creditors to try to adjust your payments, or consider contacting a credit counseling agency affiliated with the nonprofit National Foundation for Credit Counseling. A certified credit counselor can help you explore your options and will advocate on your behalf with your creditors.
Cancer treatment is never inexpensive, but if you know where to look for help, you can minimize the damage to your financial health.