Treatment for ovarian cancer care can be extremely expensive. Even with health insurance, treatment can cost thousands of dollars. Researchers have found that in the U.S., costs for care in the first year after surgery are around $100,000. Managing a cancer diagnosis and treatment is stressful enough without this amount of financial burden.
Fortunately, there are many different programs in the United States to help with the cost of ovarian cancer care. Insurance companies, hospitals, patient assistance programs, nonprofits, and other organizations offer financial assistance programs to help cover treatment costs like medications, doctor visits, scans, radiation, and chemotherapy. They also help with indirect costs such as transportation, child care, and lodging during treatments.
Although health insurance premiums and copays may seem unaffordable, navigating ovarian cancer care without insurance will be a much higher expense. This article discusses options for gaining health insurance coverage and additional financial resources to help with ovarian cancer treatment if getting health insurance is not an option for you.
Health insurance is an important option when planning your finances for ovarian cancer care. Although health insurance can be expensive, health care providers and hospitals work with insurance companies to make coverage more affordable, and so it will help you to pay less for care in the long run.
There are several public and private health insurance programs that can help reduce your out-of-pocket medical costs.
Medicaid is a state-based public program that provides health insurance for low-income individuals, families, and children. Medicare is the national health insurance program available to adults over 65 years old and to individuals who receive Social Security disability benefits.
“I am on Medicare and a Medex plan. Fortunately, everything has been paid for. I have had no out-of-pocket expenses,” wrote a MyOvarianCancerTeam member.
If you have worked jobs for which you paid into Social Security and cannot currently work due to ovarian cancer, you may qualify for disability benefits from the Social Security Administration. A Social Security application may take months to process, but ovarian cancer qualifies for a compassionate allowance, which will speed up the process of receiving benefits. If you are approved, you will be eligible to apply for Medicare even if you are younger than 65.
If you do not qualify for a public health insurance program, there are several private health insurance options. You may qualify for job-based health insurance through an employer if you or your spouse are employed.
You may also buy health insurance through your state’s marketplace or exchange, at healthcare.gov. To enroll in a state marketplace insurance plan, you must do so during the Open Enrollment period, which is usually around November to Jan. 15.
Purchasing a plan directly through a health insurance company is an option, but this is likely the most expensive selection.
If you have recently lost your job and your job associated with health coverage, you may be eligible for a program called COBRA, which allows you to continue your health care coverage. Speak to your HR department for information on this program.
If you absolutely cannot get a health insurance plan, other resources can help cover the medical expenses of ovarian cancer treatment. These programs differ by the type of care or services they cover.
Consider some of these tips for lowering the costs of your medications.
Different programs and nonprofits help provide access to low-cost or free prescription drugs. They have various eligibility qualifications, so review each program’s requirements to find a plan that you may qualify for.
Members of MyOvarianCancerTeam discuss using patient assistance programs to reduce the cost of their medications.
“I’m on Lynparza, also a PARP inhibitor, which is so expensive that even my copay would be unaffordable! Fortunately, I’m able to get my Lynparza for free directly from the manufacturer,” wrote one member.
Your cancer care team and hospital workers are a great resource to help make your treatments more affordable. Here are some ways they may be able to help:
Meet with an oncology social worker, patient navigator, or financial counselor to explore all financial resources that may be available for ovarian cancer medical care. They may know of strategies to save money on care, like scheduling multiple treatments at the same time to save on inpatient and outpatient visit costs. Many local municipalities around the country have resources to provide medical aid for residents of their cities or counties. Your oncology social worker may be able to provide this local information to you.
Most hospitals and clinics have a team of social workers on staff, so ask your oncologist, nurse, or health care provider about working with a social worker. The Ovarian Cancer Research Alliance has a social worker on staff to assist at 212-268-1002. CancerCare also offers oncology social workers that you can contact at 800-813-4673.
Additional resources that offer or can help you locate financial assistance for ovarian cancer treatments include:
Clinical trials are research studies that examine how well new treatments work in a population of people. Some clinical trials offer treatment free of cost to those that participate. Ask your doctor about your eligibility for participation in a clinical trial. The National Cancer Institute offers a list of upcoming or current clinical trials for ovarian cancer treatment on their website.
“I am enrolled in a clinical trial now that will find the efficacy of new drugs not approved by the FDA yet. My oncologist is hopeful. It gives me a reason to hang in there,” wrote a MyOvarianCancerTeam member.
In addition to financial resources for the medical expenses of ovarian cancer treatment, there are resources to help with nonmedical expenses related to treatment.
The American Cancer Society’s Hope Lodge program offers free short-term housing if you have to travel far from home for cancer treatment. The Healthcare Hospitality Network also offers options for low-cost housing during cancer treatment.
Resources for other expenses like transportation, caregivers, food, housing, and mortgage assistance can be found on the American Cancer Society’s website.
Talking to other people who understand what you are going through can be a great source of emotional support.
MyOvarianCancerTeam is the social network for people with ovarian cancer. On MyOvarianCancerTeam, more than 3,000 members come together to ask questions, give advice, and share their stories with others who understand life with ovarian cancer.
Are you uninsured and living with ovarian cancer? Have you had success getting help with your medical care costs? Share your experience in the comments below, or start a conversation by posting on your Activities page.
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