The High Cost of Mesothelioma
There are a number of contributors to financial crisis for patients with cancers like mesothelioma. Some tumors grow so aggressively that patients quickly become too sick to work. Adding to that, the cost of anti-cancer treatments can be high depending on the patient’s insurance and therapy plan.
Moreover, clinical trials, emerging therapies, and complementary treatments that may also be helpful are usually not covered by some insurance plans. Only a few years ago, data suggested a mean cost of approximately $24,000 dollars per mesothelioma patient and hospitalization. This doesn’t include transportation costs, price of living, and loss of income from missed work.
Cancer patients with heavy economic burdens do have the right to a number of financial assistance options and resources, even if they may not know about them. Because of this, it’s vital for patients, their families, and caregivers to be aware of the monetary options available to them.
Financial Toxicity’s Effect on Physical and Mental Health
Significant data and studies show that many cancer patients and their families experience financial toxicity. This occurs when related medical debt grows out of control and causes harm. Not only does this situation cause trouble when paying for important things like food and lodging, but this type of crisis has also been connected with mortality.
Researchers suggest this happens because financial security correlates with the quality of life (both physical and mental). Someone with monetary troubles usually has a negative outlook on the future, especially if they can’t afford the services, treatment, or support they or their family needs.
Long-term mental distress will impact the patient’s physical health as well. This happens because the immune system reacts to stressors and will be always on alert, releasing chemicals to fight the perceived threat. Studies show that cancer patients under significant physical and mental crises are less affected by anti-cancer therapies and have a difficult time recuperating or surviving mesothelioma.
What Financial Assistance or Help Is Available for Cancer Patients?
Mesothelioma patients aren’t the only ones who struggle with the high costs of cancer care. Anyone with cancer or a debilitating illness can fall into debt and piled-up bills.
Useful financial assistance networks available for cancer patients include:
General Financial Resources
Many national and local organizations want to help cancer patients with the staggering costs related to their illness. Some national service organizations that can provide monetary assistance are:
- Cancer Financial Assistance Coalition (CFAC) is a hub of organizations that provide financial assistance to cancer patients and their families. All you have to do is select what you need assistance with, enter your zip code, and press “submit.” The CFAC patient portal will then pull up a list of organizations that fit the criteria along with their contact information.
- Mesothelioma Research Foundation of America (MRFA) is a national nonprofit organization that aims to raise money for mesothelioma research and also to provide financial assistance and support to patients and their families.
- United Way is a general support resource for underserved communities. Select your location from their growing list to find a local United Way near you.
Not every patient has access to the healthcare they need during times like these. Fortunately, there are organizations in place that offer monetary assistance when patients meet certain criteria.
- Medicare and Medicaid are both federally funded health insurance programs. The difference between them is that Medicare is mostly for people over the age of 65, regardless of income,
- Medicaid is a health insurance program that’s both federally and state-supported. However, it’s only available to people within a specific income bracket (regardless of age).
There are extenuating circumstances for Medicare that exempt patients with debilitating illnesses like mesothelioma or some other cancers from waiting until they are 65 years old. Like Medicare, however, Medicaid helps people who can’t afford it cover the cost of their medical bills, with varying restrictions.
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Treatment, Medications, Housing, and Travel Aid
Most health insurance plans don’t cover additional day-to-day costs that creep up when a patient undergoes treatment. These expenses can include transportation costs like gas, taxis, and other public transportation to medical appointments. Other costs can involve lodging and meals for patients and their families if they have to go to a different city or state for treatment.
Financial assistance that can help with housing and travel costs include:
- The American Cancer Society gives patients and their families access to their Hope Lodge during mesothelioma therapy. This provides them free lodging while in another city for related treatments. Call 800-227-2345 to inquire. They also provide access to transportation for patients depending on their location.
- CancerCare is a support community that offers financial assistance to patients, their caregivers, and loved ones. Resources are limited and are only meant to help pay for small things like can treatment copays, transportation, and home and childcare services. They can be reached at 800-813-4673.
- CO-Pay Relief is a program put together by the Patient Advocate Foundation. Its goal is to give patients monetary assistance to help with co-pays, insurance, and deductibles. Interested individuals may call and apply at 866-512-3861.
- Most patients that develop mesothelioma get it decades after exposure to asbestos, making the majority of patients seniors. The Eldercare Locator is a comprehensive financial and informational resource hub that has many links to housing assistance and other resources elder patients and their families need.
- The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) supplies grants and funding to health facilities all over the country. Through their Health Center Program, funded health facilities must provide free or low-cost services to cancer patients regardless of whether they can afford it. Services may encompass health education, transportation, translation and accessibility assistance, reduced-priced medications, and access to primary treatments and therapies. They even have a helpful Health Center Search tool that uses zip codes to find nearby facilities.
Mesothelioma tumors develop several years after a patient encounters asbestos. Once researchers discovered the mineral’s carcinogenic potential, national and state entities created laws attempting to ban the mineral and protect the health of workers and residents who may encounter it at work, in public, or at home.
Building owners, contractors, and managers are responsible for adequate asbestos abatement before allowing their employees or residents to enter. Additionally, new uses of the mineral were also outlawed in some products. Regardless, people are still encountering dangerous instances of asbestos even today.
People that develop mesothelioma from negligent asbestos exposure have legal rights and may be able to get monetary compensation from companies responsible for their asbestos exposure.
Personal Injury Claim and Asbestos Trusts
Mesothelioma patients with the illness may find financial assistance from compensation in a personal injury case. An experienced lawyer can gather information on the patient’s behalf. This encompasses alleged exposure details, the medical history surrounding exposure, and related illnesses. The patient may use compensation to make up for the cost of lost finances from work, illness, or treatment when health insurance and other measures don’t work out.
- Mesothelioma Hub has experienced attorneys available to work with you to pinpoint the cause of illness and injury. They also track down any other legal options you might have, like asbestos trusts put in place by companies under extreme litigation to cover future patient injuries.
Financial Resources for Families and Caregivers
When caregivers, spouses, children, or immediate family largely depend on income from the cancer patient and they’re too sick to work or have passed away financial crisis can occur. Family members may find it almost impossible to cover the difference by themselves. Caregivers are usually just family members that take care of the cancer patient without pay, and they usually have to take a lot of time off work so they can be there.
Resources for caregivers and family members include:
General Financial Assistance
Family-centered companies that offer monetary support:
- CancerCare is a support community that offers financial assistance to patients, their caregivers, and loved ones. Resources are limited and are only meant to help pay for small things. This can include treatment copays, transportation, home, and childcare services.
- They can be reached at 800-813-4673. An oncology social worker will help patients and their families find what they need.
- Patients and caregivers can also use their Helping Hand search tool to enter their criteria find organizations that fit.
- Cancer Support Community offers a financial assistance program called Sprout Love Financial Assistance Fund to support family members and loved ones of cancer patients with the following costs:
- Mortgage or rent payments
- New car payments and insurance
- Utility bills
Wrongful Death Claims
Many spouses or family members can file a wrongful death claim if their loved one passes away from dangerous chemical exposure. Specifically, if the illness is caused by negligence or other similar reason. Companies may provide financial assistance to family members in a settlement or other agreement.
- Learn if a wrongful death claim is a path you or your loved one should consider if the mesothelioma patient has already passed away.
If you’re a mesothelioma patient with monetary concerns, you aren’t alone. Reach out to a social worker or health care provider at the health facility you’re most comfortable with. They’ll be able to give you several local resources that apply to your specific situation.
- The Association of Oncology Social Work is a well-established network of doctors, counselors, and medical professionals that specialize in cancer who also know about additional support options for patients.