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A worried woman sits at a desk with dollar signs floating above her head, money, finances, afford, cost

Insurance and Money Stress

Holy crap. If cancer wasn’t enough to deal with...let’s talk about the stress of money. How the hell are you going to pay for your care?

Here are some tips I learned when cancer was 100 percent part of my life in 2020.

Talk with your HR representative at work

If you are currently employed, the very first phone call should be to your human resources (HR) person.  They have access to your insurance plan and can help you understand your insurance policy and who to contact.  Don’t be afraid to approach your HR person. 

By law, they are under strict guidelines to keep your information confidential.  Meaning, they can’t share what you tell them with your employer/boss/colleagues (at some point you will have to share with your boss what is going on with your health as you will probably have to miss some days at work due to your treatment/surgery schedule).

Review your insurance policy

You’d be surprised what you’ll learn from your health insurance policy. You will find out if you have crappy coverage or better-than-average coverage. In either case, it really stinks you have to learn about your policy during one of the most stressful times in your life. So, buckle up. Grab a notebook to document what you learn and all the phone numbers and contacts you will gain.

Advocate for yourself

Don’t be afraid of the terminology and the new language you will be learning within the medical field.  It becomes very empowering when you become a very well-informed patient.  You gain strength in knowledge.  Be aware that no question is a dumb question. That person you speak with on the other line has been where you are at some point in their employment.  They had to be trained in the terminology.

If you have been referred to a cancer center or regional hospital, know that social workers exist on staff.  You have to ask to speak with one and let me tell you, social workers are some of the best people to have in your world.  They know all the ins and outs of services, grants, and special allowances for low-income patients and can help you apply for financial assistance with some of it free.

The trick is to let your guard down and your pride.  If you know for a fact that going through surgery and chemotherapy is going to put you into major debt, you need to understand that many patients have walked in your shoes.  There is a reason why hospitals and cancer centers have hired social workers to help patients navigate all the free money that exists for cancer patients who need financial assistance.

My advice...plan for tomorrow

Basically what I am telling you is to look for financial assistance if you learn that your insurance coverage pays less than 80% of your care and/or you will have to take a leave of absence from your job.  Your journey is longer than you think.  Five years or more may exist for you within your oncologist's office. That is a lot of office appointments, blood draws, pelvic exams, possible maintenance chemotherapy after your first line of treatment, surgery, post-op follow-up, you get my drift.

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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