Whether you’re currently going through treatment or heading toward remission, there’s no denying that cancer is expensive. That fact can feel overwhelming to patients since they’re already dealing with the blow from the disease itself. While so many types of cancer are treatable nowadays, the more treatment required, the more bills end up coming.
The average treatment plan for cancer patients costs about $150,000. So, it’s no surprise that a 2019 survey discovered that 63% of cancer patients and their loved ones struggled with their finances after receiving a diagnosis1.
When you’re going through any kind of treatment, the last thing you should be worried about is how you’re going to pay for it. Your focus should be on getting stronger and beating the disease. Unfortunately, medical bills are a harsh reality.
So, how can you create a financial freedom plan from the start that will allow you to feel less stressed and more focused on the success of your treatment?
Prepare Yourself for Expensive Treatment
The good news is that cancer treatment has come a long way thanks to technological advancements and research. Now, there are multiple treatment options, including several types of therapy that can help you fight the disease and take care of your mental health all at once.
The less-great news? Even though treatment options are better, they’re also more expensive than ever.
Preparing yourself for a high care cost is crucial. Is having medical debt ideal? Of course not. But, when you plan ahead and make a budget based on what you think your expenses might be, you’re less likely to be shocked when the bills start to come in. Plus, you’ll get a head start on budgeting. You can even use the 50-30-20 rule to put your money toward regular expenses (50%), wants (30%), and savings (20%). Following a method like this or another budgeting option that works for you will help you and your family to maintain your current financial lifestyle or experience few cutbacks in order to pay for treatment.
You should also base your budget on the resources you do have. Obviously, your medical expenses will look different depending on whether you have insurance or not. You might also consider dipping into other personal resources to cover some of the larger amounts. That could include borrowing from your savings, taking out a loan, or taking from your 401(k) or other retirement accounts. There might be a penalty involved if you tap into those accounts early, but if it’s the only way for you to pay off your bills while getting treatment, it’s worth it.
Work With Your Providers
It’s easy to assume that the hospital where you receive your treatment won’t budge when it comes to your treatment costs. But, it’s worth it to ask about your options.
One of the easiest ways is to inquire about hospital bill forgiveness. Talk to the hospital’s billing department about financial aid opportunities or any forgiveness programs they might have. You could qualify if:
- Your income is below the national poverty limit.
- Your out-of-pocket medical expenses exceed 10% of your annual income.
- There are errors in your hospital bill.
You might also want to inquire about financing options. Not all hospitals offer them. But, if you’re willing to make regular, consistent payments toward your bill, many medical facilities will allow you to pay off your debt over time, rather than demanding the money all at once.
Even if your questions get turned down, it’s always worth it to talk to your healthcare providers and ask about any possible forgiveness plans they might have in place.
Lean On Resources
Going through any type of cancer treatment is taxing and exhausting. Organizations that specialize in working with cancer patients recognize that. So, some of them go beyond just research and moral support.
Tapping into as many resources as possible will, at the very least, give you some insight into how you can receive support. Some organizations go one step further and are often willing to offer financial assistance in the form of grants2. Not sure where to start? Some of the most prominent nonprofit organizations for cancer patients include:
- The American Cancer Society
- The Samfund
- The Patient Advocate Foundation
It’s also a good idea to reach out to pharmaceutical companies. If you’re taking any medications at home or relying on prescriptions, they may be able to help. Some big pharma brands or medical device companies offer reduced prices if you work through a medical assistance program. Ask them about their options and how you can take advantage of lower pricing.
There’s no way around the fact that cancer is a damaging illness in more ways than one. The last thing you need, as a patient, is reduced resilience thanks to the stress of your financial burden.
So, keep these ideas in mind as you create a financial freedom plan. You don’t have to remain in medical debt forever. With a bit of planning, research, and reliance on support, you can beat this disease and the debt that often comes with it.
Beau Peters is a creative professional with a lifetime of experience in service and care. As a manager, he’s learned a slew of tricks of the trade that he enjoys sharing with others who have the same passion and dedication that he brings to his work. When he is not writing, he enjoys reading and trying new things.