Man reviewing a medical bill while a female peering over his shoulder to see piece of paper.
Everyday Support

Medical Bills on Your Mind? 4 Strategies to Lighten the Load 

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’re not alone if you’re feeling overwhelmed and stressed by the financial changes that can occur after a cancer diagnosis. Supportive resources may be available to help you, from financial assistance within your treatment center to federal aid, various programs are designed to assist, though eligibility may vary by location and circumstances.

4 Strategies to Help Tackle Financial Challenges Head-On: 

1. Map Out Your Monthly Expenses: Create a monthly household budget covering both medical (medication co-pays, hospital bills) and related expenses (transportation, food, temporary lodging).

Once you know your budget and expenses, write down any unanswered financial questions you still have for your insurance company or medical center. Identifying financial gaps early allows you to seek necessary support and eases anxiety, empowering you with control over your situation. Need a starting point? Check out: Checklist to Avoid Financial Toxicity

2. Engage with Billing Departments: Approach your oncology clinic's billing department for financial assistance options or payment plans. Ensuring small, regular payments can prevent bills from escalating. Always scrutinize bills for errors to avoid overpaying.

3. 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 a pharmacy, medication discount programs, or generic medications.

For additional guidance, consider consulting with an Iris Nurse Navigator.

4. Understand Your Insurance Benefits: A case manager from your insurance plan can clarify coverage details and benefits, helping you navigate your policy more effectively.

Additional Tips

  • Discuss potential paid leave benefits with your employer, explore: Work and Disability: Know Your Resources

  • Explore Disability Insurance eligibility at state and federal levels through trusted resources like Triage Cancer  

  • Inquire about public assistance (food, temporary cash) at local Social Services or Health Departments  

  • Consider personal fundraising for support within your network, guided by resources like Quick Guide to Crowdfunding 

  • Check out the “Go Deeper” section of this article to be directed to additional information


This article meets Iris standards for medical accuracy. It has been fact-checked by the Iris Clinical Editorial Board, our team of oncology experts who ensure that the content is evidence based and up to date. The Iris Clinical Editorial Board includes board-certified oncologists and pharmacists, psychologists, advanced practice providers, licensed clinical social workers, oncology-certified nurses, and dietitians.