What Are the Best Tips for Handling Breast Cancer Treatment Costs?

Kristeen Moore
Kristeen Moore

Breast cancer treatment costs may seem overwhelming. Surgery and chemotherapy may be just the beginning, as breast cancer patients can usually expect frequent follow-up visits with his or her doctor for other forms of treatment. Health insurance helps with such costs, but some patients are left without coverage and have to pay for expenses on their own. Financial assistance is available for breast cancer treatment costs, ranging from lower health insurance, reduced medical expenses, and state or federal health programs.

Health insurance is usually the primary source of financial assistance for breast cancer treatment costs, and there are a variety of different insurance plans available. Many people will already have a health insurance plan, either through their employer or through a spouse's or family member's employer. A patient, however, may need to increase coverage to help pay for expenses related to breast cancer. In some cases, patients pay for their own insurance due to self-employment. The costs of this type of insurance is sometimes more expensive than group insurance.

Patients with health insurance might still have to pay for expenses that their provider does not cover. This is especially the case if a patient sees a doctor or oncologist that does not accept his or her insurance plan. To minimize such costs, a patient can check in advance with their insurance to see if the plan is accepted by a particular physician. In addition, some employers offer a Health Savings Account (HSA) where employees can contribute pre-tax to a high-yield account that can then be used to cover additional costs.

Some breast cancer patients do not have health insurance. This does not mean that such patients have to go without treatments in an effort to save money. Depending on where the patient lives, there may be programs available that offer low-cost insurance or partial reimbursements for treatments. Some physicians also offer payment plans to help alleviate breast cancer treatment costs.

Medication is an important part of the treatment process for some breast cancer patients. Brand name medicines are the most expensive, and can be difficult to pay for without insurance. A doctor might prescribe a generic form of a brand name medication to help lower a patient’s expenses. The cost of medicines can also vary from one pharmacy to another, so it helps to shop around before filling a prescription.

Clinical trials may also provide free treatment for breast cancer patients who are eligible for and agree to participate in the testing. Such tests help spawn new treatment options for cancer patients and help to assess their safety and effectiveness. Not all patients qualify for breast cancer clinical trials, and some tests even cost money. A patient may want to research any costs, in addition to any potential side effects, thoroughly before signing up.

Aside from medical expenses, there are other types of breast cancer treatment costs. While patients undergo treatment, they may not be able to make income through work or take care of their families. Breast cancer volunteers may be available through private and government-sponsored organizations to help patients with day-to-day living. While a patient is undergoing treatment and recovering, it is important to develop a comprehensive budget to stick to so that debts are minimized.

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