Financial Assistance for Cancer Patients
Anyone who has ever had to deal with cancer knows the staggering financial burdens the disease imposes on both patients and their families. In many cases, private or corporate health insurance plans cover at least a portion of the cost. But, for persons without health insurance, financial assistance from both government and private organizations is available. This column is intended to assist you in finding the help you need when you need it the most.
Ask your doctor first
If you are a family member is diagnosed with cancer, the first thing you should do is discuss any concerns you may have about costs directly with your doctor, a hospital social worker, or the business office of your hospital or clinic. These people deal with healthcare costs every day and are your best source of advice. Cancer is tough enough without having to worry about financial ruination during treatment, so get the money issues taken care of first.
Where to look for help
The U.S. government agencies and private organizations listed below may offer financial assistance for cancer or other healthcare needs.
Direct income through Social Security
Social Security - a monthly income for the disabled and elderly
The Social Security system provides eligible older and disabled persons with a monthly income. Information on eligibility, what's covered and how to apply is available here.
Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
SSI pays monthly checks to people who are 65 or older, or blind, or have a disability and have limited financial resources or income. Unlike other Social Security payments, SSI eligibility is not based on work history, but strictly on financial need. SSI is not just for adults. Monthly checks can go to disabled and blind children, as well.
Additional information about all Social Security programs is available by calling Toll-Free 1-800-772-1213 TTY: 1-800-325-0778 Spanish-speaking staff is available.
Health insurance assistance
The Insure Kids Now Program
The federal Insure Kids Now program makes it possible for qualifying working families to get low cost -- even free -- health insurance for their children. Call Toll Free - 1-877-KIDS NOW (1-877-543-7669) for complete program information. From your About.com Guide.
Medicare - the federal health insurance program
Assistance is available for persons already getting Social Security benefits. Persons 65 or older, people of any age with permanent kidney failure, and disabled persons under 65 who have been getting Social Security payments for at least 24 months are eligible.
Call Social Security at Toll-Free 1-800-772-1213 TTY: 1-800-325-0778 for more information on Medicare. Spanish-speaking staff is available.
Medicaid - health insurance program
Provides health insurance for low income and poor people who are elderly, blind, or disabled as well as for certain groups of children. Services are coordinated by state or local government through the Department of Social Services or the Social Security Administration.
More Resources on About
Breast Cancer Support
Information about the causes, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of breast cancer. Covers risk factors, provides research news, and lists support groups.
Government Aid & Money - No Grant Needed
Where to find help with: Small Business Needs, Healthcare, Work or Career, Home Improvements, Hunger and Child Care or Family Needs. In most cases, you do not need a grant to get assistance from a government program. From your About.com Guide.
Federal Grants - No Free Lunch
Resources for finding and getting government grants. But, beware -- a government grant is no Christmas present. The government is not giving away "free" grant money. Find out about the federal grant process.