Sunday, February 20, 2011

Exorbitant Costs of Cancer

We all know that cancer is expensive!  If you are a cancer patient, you face those high financial costs.  Today I'm looking at the high costs of cancer as it relates individually to cancer patients.

Many of you may have excellent health insurance coverage that will cover most of your cancer medications - if so, then you are very fortunate indeed.  On the other hand, if you do not have insurance, your financial situation could be affected tremendously because of your cancer diagnosis.

Treatments for cancer can be very expensive and many of these treatments are NOT covered by government funding  Even if they are, there are "specialy authorizations" as I discussed in an earlier post that will probably greatly reduce a cancer patient's access to that drug. Then there's the barrier of your TYPE of cancer - some cancer treatment funding is easier to obtain than others.  Hey, you don't choose your "type" of cancer do you - so why are there stipulations on coverage for different types?

Not only will you encouter financial problems with your cancer treatment costs, but when you have cancer, you will also need other prescription drugs and these costs can accummulate over time and place excessive strain on your finances.  Prescriptions for blood pressure, acid reflux, fluid retention, steroid replacement, high glucose levels are examples of some of these additional costs, just to name a few.

Then you will have travel costs - travel to and from your hospital for appointments, testing and hospital stays - ambulatory costs may be included in this area.  Many patients will have to stay close to hospitals if their cancer treatments are on-going so now you can add your accommodation costs to the list.  Not all cancer hospitals have hostels (which also will cost you) or other cancer accommodation at the ready, so unless you are fortunate enough to have family or friends living close by your cancer hospital, then now you have hotel expenditures.  Of coure you will need to eat and it's important to have nutritous foods while you are receiving treatments.  If your travel is just for a day to see your doctor or for testing, then you can always pack a lunch, but for most patients, their travel is more indepth than that and food purchases cannot be avoided.  Next, there is your fuel costs to factor in as well.  You will have accidental costs for those unexpected purchases and oh, did I mention that of course you will need to be accompanied by someone, so now the costs will be even higher.  Your financial situation will be affected through your employment, especially if you do not have the proper insurance to compensate you for long-term absences from work.  Maybe you are on a fixed income, if so then the additional costs will impact your financial situation dramatically.

Many will question how cancer costs will differ from other medical costs?  Well, cancer is ongoing - it's not an illness that you will have for one week or one month or maybe not even for one year - for us now it's been five years (I say that very thankfully!!!) but in reality cancer costs continue for quite sometime and although we are blessed that in my husband's situation he is still with us, our costs also continue. 

I have just read another great post by a cancer patient/friend who writes the blog Ron's Road 2 Recovery which also confirms what I have said in greater detail about the enormous costs that cancer places on all of us who travel the journey. 

I know personally of several cancer patients who are struggling just to live day to day.  Hard to believe, isn't it, but it is very real.  Everytime I see a television commercial requesting funds for cancer research, I wonder why there is not more funds being filtered through the system for those cancer patients who need it most.  Cancer patients struggle each day to live because of their cancer, but many are also struggling to live because of the high financial burden cancer has brought into their lives.

Here's a link to an interesing article I found on the web with regards to the high cost of cancer on patients and their families

If you are a patient who is struggling financially, check out your local government agencies for advice and direction.  Here's a link for those in the US

If your family is encountering financial difficulties, please post a short message on the chat forum above to let others know the difficulties that you are encountering.  Please remain anonymous, but your comments will allow others to realize the burdens you bear everyday.

As I watched a couple who both have cancer stand at a restaurant counter recently ordering one slice of toast and one cup of coffee between them, it made the high costs that cancer brings all too real!  If you know of an individual who may be struggling with cancer financailly and you are in a position to lend a hand, why not?   It will mean the world to them, and you inturn will feel wonderful for your act of kindess.


Whidbey Woman said...

Excellent post, Deb. Thank you for this!!!! I'm going to provide a link to it on my blog right now.

Meya said...

Thanks Deb for bringing this to the forefront. Many do not understand just how much the cost can escalate for us cancer patients. Our finances are stetched to the max.

Cheryl said...

Deb something has come up at home on this very subject. It is my intention to write on it. Cancer has cost me, and my late husband, hundreds of thousands of $'s over the past 33 years.

Sandy said...

Most have no idea of the financial ruin cancer can cause. I lost my TJ to cancer in October 2009 but before he passed we had to sell everything we could and go through all our savings just to pay for his treatments. This left me with no TJ and no is just wrong how expensive a disease it is!

Ricardo said...

Money? Not something we have anymore since cancer came into our lives.