Politicians and consumer advocates are constantly referring to the high cost of medical care, but until you are actually confronted by the need for care, it is difficult to fully grasp exactly how insidious the economics of illness can be. When you’re healthy your medical costs are self-contained. You pay a copay for your medications, your doctor’s visits and diagnostic tests, and you likely receive invoices on occasion for the difference between what your insurer is willing to pay and the amount that your provider bills. If you need to see your doctor for a check-up or a procedure you take an hour or two, or even a day or two off of work, and don’t give it much thought.
But when you’re confronted by an advanced illness such as cancer, it quickly becomes clear that the financial burden goes far beyond straightforward direct medical expenses and copays. Paying for these hidden expenses can quickly deplete your financial resources: it’s no wonder that so many personal bankruptcies are attributed to illness having depleted life savings and leaving people unable to pay for their day to day bills.
Whether you have just been diagnosed with cancer or have already spent considerable time on the journey, the more you know the more control you can take of your situation. Here is a brief summary of the cancer costs that are obvious and those beyond the obvious, and for which you need to prepare:
These are the bills that most people understand and anticipate, though the actual amounts can be a shock. They include the cost of physician visits, surgery, hospitalizations, diagnostics and various treatments and medications. Insurance typically pays for many of these, though patients will have to pay for copays and deductibles out of pocket. These cancer costs are easily quantifiable, as there are specific bills that are sent and paid, and which can be tracked.
These costs are not as easy to quantify or to place a specific monetary cost on, but they are still significant, and include not only the costs for the patient but also for their family members and others who are providing assistance support and care. Indirect costs include time missed from work, time spend doing more enjoyable things, and lost productivity. Economists refer to these as morbidity and mortality costs, with morbidity representing the value of the time that you would have spent on other activities because of treatment and recovery, and mortality costs representing the value of the productivity and time lost due to premature death. Though some of this value can simply be described as intrinsic, or priceless, it also has a real cost in terms of lost income and out-of-pocket expenses.
In addition to the value of time spent going back and forth for treatment or actually in treatment or recovery, there are also very real costs involved in traveling to and from a provider. This may be as simple as filling the tank with gas and wear-and-tear on a car, to actually having to fly to a cancer specialty hospital for treatment. It is also important to keep in mind the various little expenses that can quickly add up, including the cost of meals that are eaten out, parking charges at doctor offices or hospitals, out-of-pocket expenses for help with house cleaning or deliveries of care items, etc.
The financial burden of cancer is often shocking, and can make the patient and those who love him feel helpless. Many don’t know where to turn for financial assistance for cancer, but there are good options available. If you are looking for help with cancer bills, one thing to keep in mind is the availability of cancer loans, and particularly those that can be taken out against existing life insurance policies. These loans can provide a much-needed safety net or cushion that can help pay for cancer’s hidden costs, and provide relief from financial stress and worry.
Relieve financial stress with the Funds For Living Program.