How to Cope with Financial Hardships as a Result of Cancer

While much of the discussion about the impact of cancer centers on the physical repercussions of the disease, there are many other areas of a person’s life that are affected. Finances, for instance, often take a very serious hit when a person is battling cancer. What causes these hardships? The cost of treatment is perhaps the most significant roadblock for many patients. The price tag associated with chemotherapy, pill regimens or surgery can seem prohibitive to many; even with insurance, medical bills can pile up into the tens of thousands. That doesn’t include other costs, such as co-pays, transportation, equipment, and more. There are also a number of lifestyle changes that can impact finances. For instance, patients may have to reduce their working hours or stop working altogether, which can cripple the incoming cash flow. Factor into that added childcare costs while the person is in treatment or recovering and the challenging financial landscape comes more into focus. What are some ways to cope with these hardships? Patients may tap into their savings to meet these added costs, and can even borrow against life insurance. This is a more strategic approach, as it allows the person to meet immediate needs while still thinking about the future. Some insurance policies, particularly those that are whole or life, may allow holders to borrow against life insurance, though they will have that provision written into their policy and have to meet a range of criteria. Another option is a program like Life Credit’s Living Benefits Loan initiative, which has more flexibility eligibility requirements and is open to both whole- and term-life policyholders....

Things You Can Do to Relieve the Burdens of Stress Caused by Cancer

When a patient is given a diagnosis of cancer, the fears may immediately start piling on—about one’s health, future, family, finances, and much more. Despite state-of-the-art treatment and a good prognosis, worries and anxiety will surely continue to affect the quality of life of cancer patients. Even after a patient has gone into remission, he or she may still grapple with the residual stressors of the disease. That’s why help for cancer patients in the early stages of their journey is key. Building stress-reducing techniques into one’s daily habits encourages people to make healthy decisions day in and day out, leading to improved mental health and even physical health. Loved ones can provide help for cancer patients by encouraging them to adopt some stress-reduction habits, such as: Exercise: Physical activity is widely acknowledged to be one of the best ways to reduce stress. Some may question if it can actually provide help for cancer patients, who may not be able to have the same level of physical activity they once did. However, even minimal amounts of exercise have proven beneficial to mental wellbeing. A daily walk around the block or through a treatment center or a dip in a pool at a local gym can provide essential help for cancer patients. Healthy Eating: Stocking up on fruits and veggies is a great way to improve outlook and mood, in addition to fueling physical health. The nutrients in a healthy diet have been shown to provide help for cancer patients who are looking to reduce stress and stay centered. Exploring one’s culinary skills is also a fun and engaging way...

Understanding Your Health Insurance: A How-To Guide

Health insurance for cancer patients can be one of the most significant factors that determines a person’s prognosis. It is an unfortunate reality that cancer is costly; even with a good insurance plan, cancer patients can face steep co-pays, treatment costs, and medication prices. However, health insurance can defray exorbitant out-of-pocket expenses to a degree. Research has shown that financial concerns can discourage some patients from seeking proper care, or cause them to be non-adherent to their medication regimen, putting their health and recovery at risk. While it’s a necessary part of care, understanding health insurance can seem like yet another challenge for cancer patients who already have so many other decisions and details to sort through. To ease that burden, here is a rundown of the steps cancer patients should take to ensure they’re making the most of insurance. Get insured: If you don’t have health insurance, the very first action you need to take after a diagnosis is to enroll in a plan. Visit the federal healthcare site to learn about the private and public plans that are available. If your or your spouse’s employer offers insurance, a cancer diagnosis typically will be considered a qualifying life event, so you can enroll in a plan outside of typical enrollment periods. Other options include Medicare, generally applicable to those over 65, and Medicaid, for low-income or disabled individuals. Stay insured: Cancer treatments may necessitate your taking time off of work or could even result in the loss of a job. Prepare ahead of time. The COBRA program provides temporary insurance coverage, often used by those whose employers discontinue coverage during a leave. Get informed: Learn about your...

How to Stay Organized When Times Get Tough

One of the best pieces of advice for cancer patients may be the simplest: Get organized. From appointments to clinical terminology, a major medical crisis like cancer can generate lots of things to remember. And between co-pay receipts, medical bills, and correspondence with doctors and insurance companies alike, cancer patients may find themselves drowning in a sea of paperwork. Getting and staying organized can be a big help for cancer patients, who already have enough on their minds without having to keep track of every detail that a diagnosis produces. Here are a few items of advice for cancer patients looking to make organization a part of their path to recovery. 3 Tips for Staying Organized Keep notes: Take detailed notes of all of your doctor’s visits, meetings with financial counselors and financial assistance companies, and even interactions with insurance companies. Bring along a loved one to help you log all of the details, or even set up a tape recorder or smartphone so you can revisit the conversations later. Save your paperwork: A dining room table covered in a mountain of bills and receipts is likely a common sight for most cancer patients. It’s important to save that paperwork, as you may need financial documents to challenge insurance decisions or for tax purposes, and all medical paperwork is important to establish a firm record of your case. But it’s easy enough to manage without all the mess. If you have a filing cabinet, clear out a drawer just for documents relating to your case; use color-coded folders or file tabs to differentiate among topics, such as Bills (Paid...

Overcoming Financial Stress as a Result of Cancer

Financial assistance for cancer patients isn’t simply a way to avoid debt or hang onto savings—it can also help patients avoid further physical complications and potentially hang onto years of their lives. The cost of cancer is one of the most serious, yet often overlooked, side effects of the disease. Since finances are often a personal matter, many may choose to keep the burden of mounting medical bills to themselves, which can only further a medical crisis. Stress, including from finances, has been proven to result in poorer physical outcomes. Those who choose to face the overwhelming cost of fighting cancer on their own may actually be putting all that they’re working for at risk. Just like with any stressful circumstance, those who seek help are closer to finding peace of mind—which, for those facing a serious illness like cancer, can literally be life-saving. Financial assistance for cancer patients can come in many forms. Because there is a lack of awareness around the financial impact of cancer, few people may be financially prepared if they receive such a diagnosis, meaning their best option may be to fall back onto the resources that they do have. Life insurance is one outlet that many have invested in, and which can be used in a time of crisis. Instead of selling a policy, however, Life Credit’s Living Benefit Loan program enables cancer patients to borrow against their policy’s death benefit—freeing up cash to help them meet their immediate needs without losing the future benefits of having such a policy. Apart from securing financial assistance for cancer patients, another key is dealing with...

How to Get Financial Assistance as a Cancer Patient

This is the conclusion of a three-part series called Navigating Cancer Care. Cancer patients have a mountain of decisions to consider: Which doctor to choose? Which therapy is best? How to tell loved ones about the diagnosis? How to pay for treatment? That last question may be the one that most deeply vexes patients, who are faced with the reality that treating cancer can take thousands and thousands of dollars, which most people don’t have at easy disposal. Financial assistance for cancer patients can be a lifesaving option that can connect them to better care, better treatment, and better outcomes. But with all of the other decisions patients have to make, how can they navigate the often-complex world of financial assistance for cancer patients? Education is an important first step toward understanding the options, and ultimately making a smart decision. Cancer centers can connect patients with a financial advisor, who will be able to offer a picture of the different programs that specialize in financial help for cancer patients. However, each patient’s situation is different—based on their financial resources, their treatment costs and other factors—so it’s important to do independent research and be your own advocate. Grants and scholarships exist, yet are often geared toward low-income individuals; however, even those with more savings or earning power often struggle to make ends meet after a cancer diagnosis. Other options include tapping into resources like a life insurance policy. Some patients may consider selling their policy, yet that means that they won’t later have that security for which they may have been saving for years. Another approach is borrowing against life...