Studies have shown that many cancer patients must tap their life savings to stay afloat, while others delay much-needed treatment or simply stop treatment altogether because of financial hardship. From chemotherapy appointments, doctors’ appointments, to trying to keep up with your pre-cancer obligations – you would think that all those things would be more than enough for a cancer patient to think about without having to worry about how to pay the bills. But the reality is that no matter how good your health insurance is, it does not cover everything. When you signed up for your insurance coverage, nobody told you about all the out-of-pocket expenses, let alone the fact that you might have to stop working to deal with your disease.
It hardly seems fair that people who are fighting cancer must undergo such extreme financial stress, and a lot of organizations are helping do something about it. Below you’ll find a long, but by no means the complete, list of financial resources available for cancer patients in New York. If you’ve been diagnosed with cancer and need help paying your bills, ask friends, family members and colleagues whether they are familiar with any similar financial resources that may come into play. In addition, do not hesitate to contact the organizations below to see what kind of assistance they can provide.
Fifth Season Financial
About Fifth Season Financial: A licensed life insurance loan lender in business since 2007 and member of the Better Business Bureau. Fifth Season Financial’s Funds for Living and Giving (FLAG) program provides money to people living with late-stage cancer by using their life insurance policy as collateral. They also work with patients who have congestive heart failure, COPD, ALS, MLS and other serious health conditions. The goal of the program is to help relieve financial stress so that people living with an advanced stage illness can focus on what is most important in their lives.
There is no credit check and no income requirement for the FLAG Program, but recipients must have been diagnosed with a life-threatening or advanced-stage illness, such as Stage III or IV cancers; other recipients have been diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and advanced stage heart disease, among other conditions.
To qualify, you must also own a life insurance policy that carries a value of at least $50,000, or $100,000 for group policies, and that policy must be issued in the United States. You must be a permanent resident of the United States. (Fifth Season works with a Canadian partner to offer its FLAG Program to Canadian citizens.)
American Cancer Society
About American Cancer Society: Provides limited direct assistance for travel expenses to and from treatment, childcare and pain/symptom management medications not covered by insurance.
1-800-813-HOPE (4673) / (212) 712-8080
About Cancer Care: Nonprofit organization that provides financial assistance to those with cancer, as well as connections with other financial assistance resources. Funding is available for transportation, home care, and child care.
American Cancer Fund, Inc.
(800) 578-5284/(865) 938-5281
About American Cancer Fund, Inc.: Provides patient assistance programs that provide certain medical supplies to needy patients.
National Cancer Institute
(800) 422-6237 (800-4-CANCER)
National Cancer Institute: Provides a comprehensive database listing resources available to persons with cancer and their families. These organizations do not provide direct financial assistance.
Oncolink (University of Pennsylvania Cancer Center)
About Oncolink: Comprehensive database listing resources available to persons with cancer and their families.
About Amputee Coalition: The Amputee Coalition is dedicated to enhancing the quality of life for amputees and their families, improving patient care and preventing limb loss.
Bone Marrow Foundation
(800) 365-1336/(212) 838-3029
About The Bone Marrow Foundation: The Bone Marrow Foundation’s Patient Aid Program covers the cost for donor searches, compatibility testing, bone marrow procurement, medication, transportation, housing costs and other ancillary costs associated with transplants.
The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society
About The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society: Provides up to $750 per year for treatment-related expenses (including drugs, radiation therapy, transportation, blood and marrow transfusions and testing) for leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin’s disease or myeloma patients.
Lymphoma Research Foundation
(212) 349-2910/(800) CFL-6848
About Lymphoma Research Foundation: Patient Aid Program provides up to $500 each year for lymphoma patients who need financial assistance for quality of life expenses not covered by insurance (like childcare, travel/transportation to treatment or transplant, medical aids and devices, education and support meetings or camps or cosmetic aids and hygienic products).
Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) Patient Assistance Programs
About PhRMA: PhRMA is an industry trade group which represents many United States pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies. Some PhRMA members offer free medications for patients who cannot otherwise afford them. Eligibility, terms and application procedures differ based upon manufacturer. A complete list of the companies which participate in this program is available in PhRMA’s Directory of Prescription Drug Patient Assistance Programs (visit PhRMA’s website). Applications are processed through your health care provider.
The Medicine Program
About The Medicine Program: Assists patients who wish to apply for prescription drug patient assistance programs. There is a $5 processing fee per medication, which is refunded if a patient’s application is rejected.
About Needy Meds: Maintains a website which contains information about prescription drug patient assistance programs.
New York State Elderly Pharmaceutical Insurance Coverage
(800) 332-3742/(518) 452-3773
About New York State Elderly Pharmaceutical Insurance Coverage: Available to individuals 65 or older. Pays more than half the cost of most prescription drugs after individual pays premium or deductible.
Children’s Leukemia Research Association, Inc.
About Children’s Leukemia Research Association, Inc.: Financial aid to leukemia patients and their families to help with the costs of laboratory fees, x-ray therapy, chemotherapy and other drugs. Applications are available through CLRA’s website or by calling the organization. Each application must be accompanied by a letter of diagnosis from a patient’s attending physician.
Corporate Angel Network
About Corporate Angel Network: Free air transportation for cancer patients traveling to and from recognized treatment centers in the US without regard to their financial resources. Arranges for patients to utilize empty seats on corporate aircraft operating on business flights. Patients can call to register when there is a specific travel date; requests can be taken up to three weeks in advance. Patients must also make back-up travel arrangements.
National Association of Hospital Hospitality Houses, Inc.
(800) 542-9730 (Hospitality Hotline)/(828) 253-1188 Fax: (828) 253-8082
About National Association of Hospital Hospitality Houses, Inc.: Provides inexpensive (usually $5-$15, sometimes free) lodging for families of hospital patients and/or hospital outpatients.
Hill-Burton Free Care Program
About Hill-Burton Free Care Program: Federal government program that arranges for certain medical facilities to provide free or low-cost care. Each Hill-Burton facility may choose which types of services to provide at no charge or reduced charge. Eligibility depends upon income. Application should be made to the individual facility where you are seeking treatment.
Relieve financial stress with the FLAG Program, a viatical alternative that uses your life insurance for a cash advance