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Financial Assistance for Coal Miners Facing Black Lung

From firefighting to law enforcement, and many more, certain professions unfortunately carry occupational hazards. One particular line of work with serious accompanying hazards is coal mining.

The information below sheds light on various diseases that coal miners may encounter, associated medical costs for one of the most common illnesses, as well as where these workers can seek financial assistance.

Which diseases are associated with coal miners?

Coal mining is linked to certain health risks. The men and women who work in these mines are exposed daily to coal dust, which can be a highly toxic substance. “Depending on what is in the coal mine dust that is inhaled and the part of the lung that is affected, coal miners may develop several different types of respiratory diseases,” explains the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

One of these illnesses is chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). COPD includes chronic bronchitis and emphysema, and can make breathing increasingly difficult, the CDC reports. Coal workers also face an increased risk for silicosis and dust-related diffuse fibrosis (which can be mistaken for idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis), notes A. Scott Laney, PhD, and David N. Weissman, MD, in an article for the International Conference on Occupational and Environmental Lung Disease.

Perhaps the most well-known disease associated with coal miners, however, is pneumoconiosis – more commonly referred to as “black lung.”

What is black lung?

Black lung occurs when miners inhale coal dust over an extended period of time. This dust coats miners’ lungs and airways, according to Web MD, and causes inflammation and scarring. “Estimates say around 16 percent of coal miners in the United States eventually may have lung issues from coal dust,” Web MD reports.

Signs and symptoms of black lung 

Early cases of black lung usually don’t exhibit symptoms, writes the American Lung Association (ALA). As the disease progresses, however, signs and symptoms become more apparent. They range from coughing and chest tightness to difficulty breathing. “Patients may first notice getting more breathless or winded with activity, like walking or climbing stairs,” the ALA explains. “Some patients may feel breathless even when they are at rest.”

How much does pneumoconiosis treatment cost?

While there is no cure for black lung, pneumoconiosis treatments are available for affected coal mine workers. “Once the disease has been diagnosed, treatment is aimed at keeping it from getting worse and controlling your symptoms,” notes Johns Hopkins Medicine.

One treatment option is supplemental oxygen. According to Inogen, an oxygen therapy company, daily use can average nearly $1,200 a day. Bronchodilator inhalers, which can also help open up airways, typically cost upward of $10 per dose, according to a paper in the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

Pneumoconiosis can also give way to complications like lung cancer and heart failure — illnesses that can cost tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands of dollars to treat.

Where can black lung patients find financial help?

Although the cost of treatment may feel overwhelming, there are resources that provide financial assistance for black lung disease patients.

Fifth Season Financial’s Funds for Living Program, for example, allows individuals with pneumoconiosis or another advanced-stage illness to receive a cash advance on their existing life insurance policy. This advance can provide much needed relief, covering medical bills and other expenses. Funds may also be put to other uses, such as financing a memory-making vacation or carrying out necessary home repairs – there are absolutely no restrictions.

With the Funds For Living Program, all life insurance policies remain in place throughout the process and, in over 90 percent of cases, funds remain to pass on to beneficiaries. If you’re a coal miner with a black lung diagnosis or other serious illness, contact Fifth Season Financial today at (866) 459-1271 to determine if the Funds For Living Program is right for you or visit for more information.

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