It is normal and appropriate for an advanced-stage cancer diagnosis to cause concern. Cancer patients are suddenly thrust into a world of doctors and tests, appointments and treatments. As they slowly learn about their disease and the protocols that their cancer care team will put in place, they begin to take back control of their lives and to feel better and more optimistic, focusing their energy on what is most important: their recovery and their family and friends. Unfortunately, the return of their positive energy is often stolen away again when the cancer costs start to add up. Few people anticipate the financial stress of cancer, but it is very real and it can have a devastating impact on patients’ quality of life and recovery.
There have been a number of studies done on the topic, including one conducted by researchers from the Yale School of Medicine that showed that those who felt a high degrees of financial stress related to their cancer care were much more likely to rate their overall physical health, mental health and enjoyment of life poorly. This can cause a domino effect in which recovery is compromised. Not only does financial stress for cancer treatments diminish a patients’ ability to focus on their recovery, it may go even further and cause them to stop participating. A survey conducted by the Association of Oncology Social Work showed that two thirds of patients suffering financial challenges as a result of their treatment suffered from depression or anxiety, and nearly one third either put off filling their prescriptions or failed to do so entirely. Almost one quarter of patients skipped medication dosages in order to save money and almost two thirds said that they stopped going for treatments, despite knowing that their recovery relied upon them.
The cost of cancer treatment can be debilitating, that does not mean that patients that are experiencing financial hardship should simply give up on their opportunity to recover and live their lives to the fullest. There are other options available for dealing with the financial stress that comes will advanced-stage cancer, as well as ways to minimize the stress. Many health care advocates believe that physicians and their administrative staff should include frank talks about the costs of cancer treatment at the outset of treatment, immediately after a diagnosis is made. By doing so, they include a realistic view of what lies ahead financially in the same way that they do with treatment. This avoids the patient being shocked midway through their treatment and having their recovery impacted by the shock of cancer costs. It also provides patients with the opportunity to examine their resources and prepare for what lies ahead.
Social workers are able to assist in helping cancer patients uncover the resources that are available to them, as well as working with insurers. This can relieve much of the financial stress for cancer patients. Additionally patients who have been warned and educated about the costs that they face have the opportunity to explore other options for using resources at their disposal. These include support from drug assistance programs, provider discounts and charity care, and from within their community. Another option that is available to those who have been diagnosed with advanced-stage cancer is to take out a life insurance loan.
Life insurance loans provide a personalized financial solution for those facing the high costs of cancer treatment. Those who have been diagnosed with an advanced-stage cancer are able to access the death benefit of the life insurance policy that they have been paying into for years. There are no restrictions on how the money is to be used, and the only requirements to qualify for the loan are a diagnosis, a policy with a value of at least $50,000 and having held the policy for at least two years. Policyholders are able to get as much as 70 percent of the value of their death benefit, and there is no repayment required during the individual’s lifetime. Further, the named beneficiary will still receive the funds remaining beyond the loan repayment. Life insurance loans are a good option for those facing anxiety and financial stress for cancer treatment.
Relieve financial stress with the Funds For Living Program.