There is no easy way to hear that a family member has a terminal illness. And it’s even more difficult to manage the care and costs that go along with it. However, if you find yourself caring for a loved one in this position, keep reading for advice on how to act on their behalf, choose the care services, and make the most out of the cancer diagnosis.
Making Decisions by Proxy
Hopefully, your loved and will have the capacity to continue to make decisions for themselves about their illness. If this is not the case, you may need to establish a power of attorneyso that you can ensure their needs are met. Help your loved one create a living will and consider appointing a Social Security representative – all of these actions will work to their benefit. Medicare.org goes into greater detail on ways to act on a loved one’s behalf during an illness.
Cancer is not an illness that will simply go away on its own. It requires medical treatment and often intense regimens of radiation or chemotherapy. According to Cancer.net, there are numerous factors that contribute to the ever-rising cost of cancer care. These include:
Type of treatment received
Length and location of treatment
Individual health insurance coverage
Supplemental medications need
Transportation and travel
At-home medical care
According to the American Journal of Managed Care, cancer patients may benefit from the help of an oncology financial navigator. These are individuals specifically trained to help decrease out-of-pocket expenditures for cancer treatment. An oncology financial navigator can help locate free medications, match patients with co-pay and premium assistance, and locate marketplace healthcare plans to maximize benefits at the lowest possible cost. These financial advisors can also help locate community assistance programs to help with things such as medical equipment, transportation, and caregiver respite services.
While many patients qualify for financial assistance, this is not a guarantee and the burden of payment falls upon your loved one and can impact your entire family. If they have significant assets, such as a home, either personal or real property, or savings, now is the time to tap into these assets. Supplemental insurance coverage may be an option if coverage was obtained prior to the diagnosis. CIGNA reports that there are numerous types of supplemental insurance productsavailable including cancer treatment insurance.
Affordable Care Act and Cancer
While cancer still poses a significant financial burden, the majority of American citizens do have more care options available today than just 10 years ago. The Affordable Care Act, according to The Cancer Journal, has made access to care easier for cancer patients of all ages, both in the private and public health insurance markets. Currently, an insurance company cannot deny or increase premiums for coverage on an individual based on a pre-existing condition, such as cancer. Further, insurance companies are no longer allowed to limit the dollar amount a customer may benefit from. Previously, many insurers capped lifetime coverage at $1,000,000.
Cancer kills more than 600,000 people in the US each year. And so far for 2018, there have been 1,735,350 new cases of cancer diagnosed -- this is split almost equally between men and women, with the exception of breast cancer, which affects women 100 times more than men.
Cancer is not a disease that discriminates. It can affect people of all ages, races, and socioeconomic backgrounds. Regardless of your loved one’s situation, paying for care is a burden but one made a bit easier by making proper financial arrangements as soon as possible.
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