Treating cancer is expensive. Missed work, loss of income, high deductibles, a substantial reduction or depletion of savings, or going into debt. It all adds an additional layer of stress to the already-stressful challenge of coping with prostate cancer.
A survey conducted by the Association of Oncology Social Work (AOSW) showed "66% of patients with major financial challenges suffer depression or anxiety." According to AOSW's survey "40% of patients reported depleting their savings, almost 30% reported dealing with bill collectors, and 54% of those handling a major/catastrophic financial burden said it had become more difficult in the past year to afford treatment."
The same survey found that financial issues affect a patient’s willingness/ability to continue with necessary ongoing treatment. In fact "29% delay filling prescriptions due to financial pressures, and 22% skip doses of their medications," it said.
Delaying or skipping doses of cancer-fighting treatment medications has an impact on the success or failure of treatment. According to an article in Fierce Heath Care, prostate cancer patients who filed for bankruptcy were almost twice as likely to die as those who remain solvent.
Protect your financial health
There are things you can do to that may help you protect your financial assets and avoid bankruptcy:
- Buy health insurance: Insurance companies are not allowed to disqualify you for a pre-existing condition.
- Open a health savings account: This allows you to pay for your out-of-pocket medical costs with pre-taxed earnings. Not everyone qualifies, so it’s important to get accurate information before opening this type of account. If you are on Medicare you can’t open an HSA.
- Sell or cash in a life insurance policy: Many policies allow you to sell back or cash in on benefits to pay for treatment.
- Apply for Medicaid: For those with few financial resources and no insurance, Medicaid may cover the cost of your treatment.
- Apply for Social Security disability: If you will miss more than three months of work, or experience a recurrence of prostate cancer, you could be eligible for Social Security disability.
- Apply for financial assistance: There are organizations that provide financial assistance for treating prostate cancer.
- Set up your own fundraising event on gofundme.
- Negotiate: Ask providers for discounts on the amounts you owe out of pocket. Try to arrange an affordable payback plan without interest.
The majority of men who are treating prostate cancer experience a loss of income and savings. That's why it's important for you to take advantage of all the things you can to keep costs affordable, protect your savings, and avoid bankruptcy.
If you know other ways to help men with the costs for the treatment of prostate cancer, or have a success story to share, your comments and ideas are welcome.
Note: This article appeared in Prostate Cancer News Today
Rick Redner and his wife Brenda Redner wrote two award-winning books. The first:
provides men and couples with information and support before, during and after prostate surgery.
Their second book was written for couples living with!erectile dysfunction. After living with erectile dysfunction for four years, Rick chose penile implant surgery. The couple share how implant surgery changed their lives and relationship.
The title of their book is: