After a breast cancer diagnosis, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by treatment costs. Even when you have insurance, the initial treatments and follow-up appointments can create a financial strain.
Don’t panic — there’s no need to choose a less-than-ideal care plan or consider skipping treatments altogether. With the right strategies and resources, you can do your part to manage costs and get the best care possible.
Here are some things you can do to manage your treatment costs.
8. Talk to Your Doctor
As soon as you can after receiving your diagnosis, sit down with your doctor to talk about treatments and costs. It may be helpful to bring the hospital’s billing specialist into the conversation. Make a list of every treatment, procedure, exam, and medication, as well as its associated price. Then, find out if you can negotiate co-pays or set up a payment plan. Ask if the health care facility offers in-house funding to help cover costs.
7. Do Your Research
Using the information from your doctor as a starting point, research everything you can about each aspect of treatment to find ways to save. Compare prices among local clinics for outpatient treatments to find the best deal. When it comes to visiting the hospital for care, avoid any unnecessary overnight stays by opting for more affordable home care.
6. Seek Financial Assistance
Outside funding sources can help you pay for the costs of cancer treatment. Start with your hospital or doctor, who may be able to provide references to organizations that are available and fit your needs. See if there is any income-based financial assistance available.
Alternatively, look to groups such as The Pink Fund, which helps cover short-term cost-of-living expenses for patients who are in active treatment.
5. Save Money on Medications
Breast cancer treatment often comes with a variety of prescription drugs. Ask your doctor if it’s possible to skip brand-name drugs and opt instead for less-expensive generic versions; this may be particularly useful for painkillers. Your doctor may also be able to provide medicine samples, which can cut costs while you’re finding the right medication combination. Before purchasing your prescription, call around your local pharmacies and see how much they charge for your medications. Different pharmacies may have different prices; shop for the lowest one.
4. Understand Your Insurance
During breast cancer treatment, you are likely to spend a considerable amount of time dealing with insurance. Make sure you have chosen the right insurance plan for your situation. Avoid unnecessary costs by getting to know the nitty-gritty details of your policy. Find out if the insurance company pays the first payment, or if you’re responsible for paying and seeking reimbursement.
Send all bills to your insurance company immediately to avoid any late fees. Appeal your denied claims, and find out why they were not covered. Request a case manager from your insurance company; they should be able to offer you more specialized assistance with your claims.
3. Examine Each Bill
When treatment bills start coming in, don’t pay them right away. First, examine your insurance plan’s explanation of benefits form to see what’s covered. Then, compare the two carefully to catch any costly mistakes between the hospital’s bill and your stated coverage.
If you find a discrepancy, call the billing department to rectify the mistake and avoid paying more. Keep careful records of each bill and payment to ensure that you’re only paying for the services you need.
2. Find Tax Deductions
Some breast cancer treatment costs can be deducted from your taxes. To do this, you must itemize deductions for your medical care expenses. Deductible medical expenses may include those for breast prostheses, chemotherapy costs, surgeries, and wigs purchased after experiencing hair loss from treatment.
This process can be complicated, so it’s a good idea to keep great records and work with an accountant for the biggest savings.
1. Ask About Clinical Trials
Ask your doctor if you qualify for any current clinical trials. During a trial, many of the costs may be covered, including for medications and treatments. Specifics vary by trial; your doctor can determine whether or not available studies are appropriate for your particular situation.
Everyone deserves great breast cancer care, no matter what their financial situation is. With a little extra effort and research, you should be able to find resources to help you manage your treatment costs and help you maintain some peace of mind.
The Breast Cancer Site is a place where supporters and survivors come together to help fight breast cancer. In addition to sharing personal stories of hope, shopping for the cause, and signing petitions, visitors can take just a moment each day to click on a pink button to provide free mammograms for women in need. Visit The Breast Cancer Site and click today - it's free!