Cancer can be a very costly disease to overcome.
There are many unexpected expenses and even the best health insurance won’t cover them all.
It is best to not wait until you are in financial hardship to start discussing the cost of treatment with your cancer care team.
Here are some ideas on what to expect and how to plan for treatment costs.
The first thing to do is to find out as much as you can about your cancer and the treatment before it is underway.
This will help you understand just what to expect and to help you plan out how to deal with the costs.
Typical medical costs include things like lab tests such as blood and urine tests that are billed separately in most cases.
Clinic visits for all the diagnostics and treatments can incur costs for equipment, room charges, and auxiliary staff.
Imaging and radiation treatments can mean separate bills for the radiologist, as well as for external radiation, implants, and medicines.
Drug costs may be included in your insurance but could be covered differently as to if they are procedure relate, prescription or not and if they are inpatient or outpatient.
Hospital stays can include fees for drugs, tests, and procedures, and doctor and nurse visits as well as specialist consultations.
Surgery and home care may also have extra costs for the operating room, drugs, equipment, and specially trained nurses and technicians.
To find the answers to your questions the best place to start is by asking your cancer care team.
You will want to start by getting information on your overall treatment plan. Be sure to be clear in your intentions and let them know that you are concerned about the cost of treatment.
Ask about each treatment if your insurance will cover the cost of this cancer care or if you are going to have to pay by yourself.
After going through the whole treatment process, ask if you can have a ballpark figure as to how much it will cost in total.
If you think that you can not cover the cost of treatment ask if there are others that might not be so costly.
Be sure to also ask if your health insurance company need to pre-approve any part of the treatment and if treatment. Find out where the treatment will take place if it is at the hospital or in the clinic or at home.
Chemotherapy these days is usually taken in the form of drugs taken orally.
This method of delivery is just as effective as others however the costs are very high, sometimes thousands of dollars per month.
A lot of insurance companies do not provide the same kind of coverage as they do with more traditional IV forms of chemotherapy. Oral chemo drugs are considered to be like regular prescription medicine.
If you are covered for these kinds of drugs you may still find that there is a high amount of copay involved.
In some instances, you may end up with a 25% copay which can still lead to thousands of dollars per month in drug costs. These fees are not available to be paid later, they are paid when you pick up your medicine.
Other prescription drugs may be involved such as to treat pain, anxiety and other physical symptoms.
The cost of these drugs can vary widely so it is recommended to contact the local pharmacies to find out who has the best price. When being prescribed additional medicine you will want to ask some questions.
Ask if the oral chemo drugs you are taking will cost you, and about the other drugs that go along with it.
With each prescription ask if your insurance will cover it and how much you have to pay. Ask if there are any programs to help get you the drugs you need and if there are any less expensive generic forms that you can take.
If you are planning on a hospital stay because of surgery or radiation treatment then you are going to want to ask a few questions.
Be sure to ask each time as to if your insurance company needs to pre-approve of the treatment, test or surgery.
Ask if there is a co-pay involved and how much it will be. If you have to go to the hospital find out if the doctors you are going to see are in your health plan network.
Count all the charges and if you should plan for rehab or long term care, always find out how much your insurance will cover.
If your health insurance does not cover the costs you are going to have to pay out of pocket.
These costs can quickly add up and can be a big hindrance in your life. You want to be sure that your insurance company will pay or reimburse you for the majority of the medical bills.
Be sure to know the terms of your policy and be aware of the preferred network of healthcare professionals.
Keep detailed records of all your costs and treatments. Even knowing your policy may mean having to resubmit claims and to appeal denials etc.
Most often there is an insurance expert at the doctor’s office who handles all related concerns.
If you make use of the professionals and resources available, you might find yourself in a less stressful situation when it comes time to handle the costs of your cancer treatment.