Pediatric Cancer Financial Toxicity
Financial Toxicity of a Pediatric Cancer Diagnosis
by Les Friedman, Mikey’s dad
Treating pediatric cancer is expensive. Rising medical costs wreak havoc on a family’s finances and, in time, become yet another toxic side effect of cancer treatment.
Medical bills quickly fill our mailboxes as costs mount for hospital stays, clinic visits, medicines, tests and surgeries. In addition, unexpected costs for procedures or treatments for infections, dehydration or pain can add to rising costs.
Additional Financial Challenges
As medical bills climb, you may face another financial hit if you leave work to take care of your child. And, depending upon your child’s medical situation, their immune system may be compromised. This means that they can’t go to daycare or school, leaving you scrambling for childcare. Your bill pile may continue to grow due to other treatment-related expenses like gas, hotels, meals and childcare for siblings. It’s also important to remember that long after the completion of treatment, medical-related costs continue. Most patients have on-going follow-up visits at least once a year. Many pediatric cancer patients will have chronic conditions resulting from their treatments. These conditions will also require ongoing treatment.
To sum it all up, at a time when you need to focus on the care of your sick child, you are faced with crippling medical bills. Although this may be true for you, there is good news. Financial help may be closer than you think to help lessen the financial blow.
Where to Find Help
If your child is covered under your insurance plan, and depending upon your coverage, many of the costs will be covered. However, this is only one piece of the financial burden. Help may be available for costs not covered by your insurance as well.
Start by getting an idea of how much you think care might cost. Your next step is to meet with the financial counselor at the hospital or facility where your child is being treated. Most hospitals have financial counselors available who deal with insurance all the time. Their knowledge will be valuable for you. In addition, there are other ways to help minimize the financial impact. Below is a list of good resources for you to look into.
Good Resources to Look Into
- The American Childhood Cancer Organization provides an extensive list of charitable organizations which provide financial support and resource for families.
- The American Society of Clinical Oncology website has financial advice and links to resources, cancer.net.
- The Cancer Financial Assistance Coalition has a searchable database of financial resources.
- CancerCare provides financial assistance for people affected by cancer.
- The CancerCare Co-Payment Assistance Foundation addresses the needs of individuals who cannot afford their insurance co-payments for the cost of medications for treating cancer.
- Compass to Care – schedules and pays for travel arrangements to the hospital where a child is being treated.
- Patient Access Network Foundation provides financial assistance.
- Patient Advocate Foundation helps with insurance co-payments to cover the costs of medication.
- The National Children’s Cancer Society (NCCS) printable parent guide, The Other Side of the Mountain offers information about issues related to your child’s medical coverage.
- NeedyMeds provides comprehensive and up-to-date information on patient assistance programs and other resources that can help families in need obtain medications an medical care.
- FamilyReach provides immediate assistance, education and outreach to qualified families.