Dealing with mesothelioma can place a massive burden on patients and their loved ones – both physically and emotionally. Unfortunately, the toll of mesothelioma doesn’t end there. Cancer is a very expensive disease to treat with pre-treatment, treatment and post-treatment expenses costing thousands of dollars at each step. Even with seemingly adequate health insurance, patients will still be faced with many costs which are not covered. Once diagnosed with mesothelioma, patients and their families should take time to learn the costs associated with mesothelioma, make a financial plan, and seek out the resources available to them.
Primary Costs of Mesothelioma
The primary cost of mesothelioma is treatment. Most insurance companies will only pay for FDA-approved treatments such as surgery, certain chemotherapy drugs, and radiation. Most insurers will not pay for experimental treatments, regardless of how promising they appear in clinical trials in the U.S. or treatments approved in other areas of the world. Treatment for mesothelioma also usually includes prescription drugs. A monthly prescription of cancer medications can cost more than $1,500. The co-pays for cancer drugs are usually more expensive than with other medications.
Many people dealing with mesothelioma treatment experience problems from their health insurance providers, such as the provider rejecting a claim. Foremost, it is important that patients and their families expect these sorts of problems. This will reduce stress and frustration. Further, they should have a plan for dealing with their insurance providers. It is helpful for patients to familiarize themselves with company policies as much as possible.
If you suspect you have mesothelioma or have already been diagnosed with the disease, you will have to be prepared to deal with tens of thousands of dollars in invoices and a constant flow of medical bills in your mailbox. It can be very distressful to manage the paperwork much less find a way to pay for any expenses that insurance doesn’t cover. A typical chemotherapy treatment program that lasts for 8 weeks can cost as much as $30,000, or more if the drugs include the most recent patented medications. The cost of Gene therapy treatments may cost close to a million dollars and a $150,000 minimum.
Having access to the latest technology and medications is wonderful, but it comes with a cost.
Secondary Costs of Mesothelioma
There are many secondary costs associated with mesothelioma and its treatment. One of the largest of these expenses has to do with traveling for treatment. There are only a few mesothelioma experts in the United States so patients may need to travel long distances to receive the best possible care. They may also need to pay for accommodation once there. These costs extend to the patient’s family as well. While some insurance companies will pay for mesothelioma travel costs, they are unlikely to pay for family member travel costs.
Another major secondary cost of mesothelioma is loss of income. The disease itself often prevents patients from working. Even if patients are able to work, they will still likely to be required to take time off of work for treatment. Patients may be hospitalized for months at a time which can take a financial toll.
Financial Resources for Mesothelioma
There are numerous resources for mesothelioma patients and their families which can help alleviate the financial burden of coping with cancer. Many organizations offer direct financial support by providing free housing or travel grants for treatment. Some organizations offer direct financial support without any strings attached to it. Financial support for mesothelioma can often come from local groups, such as churches.
The question is: How do you begin finding financial resources. It can be a daunting task dealing with the emotional and physical challenges of mesothelioma and then also having to deal with the high expenses the disease brings. You don’t want to leave your family owing thousands of dollars should you have a poor prognosis. The first place to start is determining what your insurance will or won’t cover, of course. At that point you can then contact foundation, organizations and government agencies that help people find financial resources.
For example, the U.S. Administration on Aging works with senior citizens needing help in a number of ways including covering treatment costs and getting access to supportive services and long-term care planning.1 The government also operates a website named GovBenefits.gov that lists government programs. You should also talk to the Social Security Administration if you are elderly.
The American Cancer Society (ACS) is an excellent information resource also. The ACS can steer you in the right direction to find financial help and also offers many programs that provide assistance with treatment decisions and may be able to help family members find temporary housing if you must travel some distance to get the best treatments. Hope Lodge is supported by the ACS and is operated to provide free housing but it’s only in a limited number of locations.2
There may be a nonprofit that can help you locate financial resources also. For example, United Way or Catholic Charities may be able to help financially or help you find financial resources. Another excellent nonprofit resource is the Mesothelioma Research Foundation of America.3
Mesothelioma is almost solely caused by asbestos exposure. Evidence shows that asbestos manufactures were aware of the risks associated with asbestos but continued to use it, thus making many people victims of asbestos-related diseases. Patients or their families are often entitled to financial compensation for mesothelioma. A mesothelioma lawyer can help patients or their families file a legal claim and receive compensation. For many mesothelioma patients and their families, this has become a major source of compensation.
1 Administration on Aging: AoA Programs (2011). Retrieved from Department of Health and Human Services at: http://www.aoa.gov/AoARoot/AoA_Programs/index.aspx
2 Find Support & Treatment (2011) Retrieved from the American Cancer Society at http://www.cancer.org/Treatment/index
3 Financial Assistance (2011) Retrieved from the Mesothelioma Research Foundation of America at http://www.mesorfa.org/finance/index.php