Know Your Resources: Medical Bills

Financial stress is a common experience when living with cancer. Your finances may be impacted by a loss of job-related income as well as higher overall expenses from medical treatments.

You are not alone if you’re feeling overwhelmed and stressed by the financial changes that can occur after a cancer diagnosis. There are supportive resources that may be available to help you, including from your treatment center, local and national organizations, and federal programs. The details of each program and what you qualify for will vary based on your location, income, and diagnosis. The following are some suggestions and strategies to help you get started:  

  • Map out your monthly expenses: Create a monthly household budget that includes information about direct medical expenses (e.g. medication co-pays, hospital bills) and expenses related to treatment (e.g., food, transportation, temporary lodging). This can help you track what money is being spent for cancer treatment. Once you know your budget and expenses, write down any unanswered financial questions you still have for your insurance company or medical center. If there is a gap between your income and expenses, you will have more opportunity to seek financial support if you understand your exact needs. Additionally, this type of organizing can help you to feel a greater sense of control over your cancer experience as well as reduce feelings of anxiety or distress. Consider: Checklist to Avoid Financial Toxicity

  • Call the billing department of your oncology clinic: Request a financial assistance application and/or ask if you can establish a payment plan for medical bills. Small, consistent payments towards your medical bills can help avoid bills going to collections. Review medical bills for any inaccuracies that may end up costing you more money than you owe.

  • Talk with your medical team: Ask your medical team who you can speak with at your treating facility about financial questions and concerns. Often, a social worker, patient advocate, or financial counselor can provide a list of local cancer support organizations that may offer financial assistance. They may be able to direct you to pharmacy or medication discount programs, or generic medications. If you don’t have access to someone at your treating facility or you’d like additional support speak with an Iris Nurse Navigator for financial navigation through Iris.

  • Connect with your insurance company: An insurance-based case manager can serve as a resource to you about any questions and concerns you may have about your coverage and benefits.

Other Potential Strategies:

  • Talk with your employer and find out if you are eligible for any paid leave benefits Work and Disability: Know Your Resources

  • Find out if you are eligible for Disability Insurance programs on the state and federal level Cancer & Disability Insurance | Triage Cancer

  • Contact your local office of Social Services of local Department of Health to find out whether you are eligible for any public assistance (e.g. food assistance, temporary cash assistance).

  • Consider engaging in personal fundraising through your support network and community Quick Guide to Crowdfunding