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Will Only The Rich Survive?

Most likely, it is the rich that can survive.

Here’s what we know for sure: Over one-third of personal bankruptcies in the United States stem from medical problems. And three out of four people who declared bankruptcy for this reason actually had medical insurance. It just didn’t cover everything.

If you or someone you know is facing a similar cost-of-care crisis, here are a few things you can do while we wait for drastic change within the pharmaceutical industry:

  • Ask as many questions as possible prior to treatment so you’ll know exactly how many doctor’s visits, lab tests and procedures to expect. These things are always subject to change, but it’s smart to at least get a general idea.
  • A general idea.
  • Get someone you trust to help you track the high cost of care.
  • Make use of the ancillary services offered by most hospital oncology units. Often you’ll find social workers who can help you navigate your insurance requirements, and who may be able to help you qualify for special assistance programs.
  • Keep careful records of every doctor visit, prescription and procedure so you can track where different bills come from.
  • If you have insurance, get familiar with the terms of your policy.
  • Prepare for expenses beyond treatment, like transportation, parking, meals, home care and travel if you have to go elsewhere for care.
  • Talk to your employer about how much work you can miss and what the ramifications will be.

Here’s what we know for sure: Over one-third of personal bankruptcies in the United States stem from medical problems. And three out of four people who declared bankruptcy for this reason actually had medical insurance. It just didn’t cover everything.

If you or someone you know is facing a similar cost-of-care crisis, here are a few things you can do while we wait for drastic change within the pharmaceutical industry:

  • Ask as many questions as possible prior to treatment so you’ll know exactly how many doctor’s visits, lab tests and procedures to expect. These things are always subject to change, but it’s smart to at least get a general idea.
  • A general idea.
  • Get someone you trust to help you track the high cost of care.
  • Make use of the ancillary services offered by most hospital oncology units. Often you’ll find social workers who can help you navigate your insurance requirements, and who may be able to help you qualify for special assistance programs.
  • Keep careful records of every doctor visit, prescription and procedure so you can track where different bills come from.
  • If you have insurance, get familiar with the terms of your policy.
  • Prepare for expenses beyond treatment, like transportation, parking, meals, home care and travel if you have to go elsewhere for care.
  • Talk to your employer about how much work you can miss and what the ramifications will be.

The American Cancer Society and several other organizations offer various loans and grant programs for cancer patients. If you want to explore.

these services, start with the Cancer Financial Assistance Coalition, which is a searchable database maintained by 14 organizations as a resource for cancer patients in financial need.

 Source:  Al Sears, M.D.

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