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The ‘Cost’ of Cancer: Why many are forced to focus on finances instead of recovery

Cancer impacts 1-in-3 Americans. Whether it’s a loved one, friend, colleague, or ourselves there is a very real likelihood each of us will be impacted by a Cancer diagnosis. There are so many fantastic organizations out there raising awareness about what to look for, the benefits of annual screening for early detection, and raising money to fund cancer research. However there is more to the fight against Cancer than the detection and treatment of the disease.

The American Cancer Society put together a great resource – The Cost of Cancer: 2020 Edition in which they outline the financial impact cancer has on so many. Of the almost $200 Billion spent in 2018 on Cancer care for patients in 2018, $5.6 Billion was out of pocket cost! Over the next decade those costs are only projected to go up…So why is Cancer treatment costing patients so much out of pocket and how can you know if you’re prepared financially?

On the treatment side there is a lot to think about when looking at how your Health Insurance covers Cancer treatment. Here’s a few key things to look at:

Deductible – How much do you have to pay out of pocket for Cancer Diagnosis and Treatment before your insurance starts covering costs? Also double check to see if there is a separate deductible for medical services, drugs, and out-of-network services!

Co-Pays – Check the flat fees you will need to pay up front for each treatment, prescription, etc.

Co-Insurance- Your Health Insurance may only pick up a certain percentage of different treatment types. When your insurance is covering 80% of a $10,000 bill, you’re still looking at a $2000 medical bill out of pocket.

Out-of-Pocket Maximums – Many Health Insurance plans have a cap on what you have to pay ‘out-of-pocket’ each year. Make sure you’re familiar with that amount so you can plan accordingly!

In vs. Out of network – Review your coverage to see how they treat in-network care providers versus out-of-network care providers. Check with your Insurance Carrier and your Doctor to see what impact the network will have on your coverage

Types of Treatment – Again look at what types of treatment are covered and for how much. In some cases your Doctor may have multiple treatment options and can impact your Insurance differently.

There are additional ‘indirect costs’ to consider as well in a fight with cancer where your Health Insurance typically does not play a part. These additional considerations are things like:

Transportation & Lodging – If you have to travel outside your area to receive the care needed or if a donor is involved often times there can be travel costs that come out of pocket.

Lost Wages – Depending on your treatment you may not be off enough consecutive days for Short-Term Disability to kick-in but you also may run out of Paid and Sick Leave due to the number of days out here and there.

Caregiving costs – Many of us have family members (children or parents) who depend on us for care. Cancer can get in the way of us providing that care and an extra pair of hands may be needed at a cost.

Combining all these considerations together it’s easy to piece together where that massive out of pocket number is coming from. The real question is how do you prepare for these expenses? Certainly you can build additional savings into your budget, but for many the amount needed to be put aside to make a meaningful impact is just not possible. Another way is through insurance specifically built to handle these costs of a cancer diagnosis or other critical illness.

These plans are designed to send you a check to help with all these costs. Money at the time of the initial diagnosis. Money for surgery and treatment. Money to help cover lodging and transportation costs. With many plans other diagnosis can be included and often include

Heart related issues if those are a concern in your family.

For over 20 years we’ve been helping clients and their families have the peace of mind knowing that if a Cancer diagnosis comes their way that they’re prepared to focus on the fight and recovery versus worrying about the finances. Get connected with us today and learn how FED Benefits Center can help.

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