Being diagnosed with cancer is an overwhelming feeling. There are so many implications to consider; what about my health, my family, my job? Who will I find to care for me, will I survive, how will I cope? All of these are natural reactions to being diagnosed with cancer. As a patient, there will be many decisions that need to be made. One of the most important and potentially stressful issues though will be how will you pay for your care.
Cancer is an expensive illness to have. There may be doctors, nurses, surgeries, chemo or radiation therapies, tests, medications and time off from work. Having affordable health insurance will become critical. Most employers offer some kind of medical insurance and even without an employer, there are other many other options to consider.
If you have insurance already:
Make sure your policy is paid and up to date; this is not the time to let your policy lapse.
Read and understand your policy; understand what your requirements are as the patient and how to make your policy work for you.
Get help from a caseworker or insurance agent; use the expertise of your insurance agent or a liaison through your employer. It is their job to help you navigate through the policy.
Submit claims as required and on time; If you don’t feel you can do this, assign someone to do it for you, a spouse, sibling or friend.
Keep track of records. Keep all prescriptions, test results, benefit explanations, medical bills etc. There may be times that these records will come into question and you will want to have them close at hand.
If you need insurance:
Seek out help: The hospital or doctor may have resources to help you navigate. Also check the American Cancer Society or the Social Security Administration.
Find an advocate-either personal or professional:
Learn the insurance language: Understand what terms like pre-existing conditions, PPO, or HMO mean.
Government Funded Insurance such as Medicare
State or Local Insurance such as Medicaid
Check into Group insurance through fraternal or professional associations
Compare policies: Find out what is going to work for your situation, what is affordable and reasonable.
Studies show that having affordable health insurance decreases the risk of death from cancer. This is primarily due to better preventative health maintenance such as screenings, mammograms and regular physicals. The other thing about having good affordable insurance is that patients have more access to information. Insurance companies are a wealth of information and usually share their information via newsletters, tips and articles.
Having good affordable insurance with cancer is important in receiving the proper care during treatment. It is also important prior to any diagnosis for preventative care and access to information. Finding affordable health insurance once diagnosed is potentially difficult, but not impossible with research, knowledge and help from available resources.