Dealing with medical bills, medicine, and supplies related to a child’s cancer treatment can be complicated, if not overwhelming.
Since payments can add up quickly, knowing one’s options can help people handle financial responsibilities better.
Parents and caregivers of cancer patients, including children with the disease, can check if they are eligible for government benefits. But when these benefits are insufficient, assistance from organizations outside national service agencies is worth exploring.
Young patients and caregivers do not have to go through financial challenges alone. The Mesothelioma Group Site and other related online communities understand these financial concerns.
The guidance and connections these groups offer can help individuals until the treatments are complete.
What are some of the organizations that families can run to for cancer-related assistance? What programs do they provide? And what are the different expenses that one should prepare for first?
This article lists some of these groups and the kind of help they extend. People will also learn about the costs they can incur in caring for a child or loved one with cancer.
Organizations Offering Various Support for Young Patients and Their Caregivers
The following organizations offer various financial and practical help to young cancer patients and their caregivers:
Child Welfare League of America (CWLA)
The CWLA works with public and private agencies so that America’s children can experience optimal safety and well-being.
The CWLA portal links to HealthCare.gov’s “Plan Provider, which helps people search for a private healthcare company that can suit their budget and needs.
Moreover, the site has a health care page with links to children’s physical and mental health programs.
CWLA also publishes the Children’s Voice magazine, which contains local and national news affecting children and families.
Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP)
Low-income families can seek health coverage for their children with cancer through this federal-state partnership. Only kids without Medicaid coverage are eligible.
Every state has its CHIP and may call it by a specific name. Parents and other family members can get more information about CHIP in their area by going to www.insurekids.gov.
National Children’s Cancer Society (NCCS)
The NCCS offers emergency assistance to families with children who have been away from home or confined as an inpatient for 30 consecutive days within the past three months.
The organization’s lodging and travel assistance are ideal for families whose kids are facing aggressive forms of cancer. NCSS only extends its support to children with high-grade (III or IV) brain tumors or anaplastic thyroid cancer.
Young patients can be eligible if they receive their cancer diagnosis before age 18 and are due for treatments before they turn 21.
The benefit is open to U.S. citizens or residents with an I-551 card for 12 months who have no previous history of cancer. The checking or savings account of the guardian applying for aid must be below $5,000.
Andrew McDonough B+ (Be Positive) Foundation
B+ Foundation offers help to families needing help paying for prescription medicine that their insurance company will not cover, travel expenses, and rent or mortgage payments.
The Delaware-based group raises funds through local and college-based events, merchandise sales, and corporate partnerships. The parents of Andrew McDonough, who died of leukemia at age 14, set up the foundation in his honor.
CancerCare is a non-profit organization that offers transportation and childcare assistance to young cancer patients within the New York City area.
The organization also offers counseling, educational materials, and case management support. Child cancer patients and their families can attend events or connect with other kids with cancer through CancerCare’s activities.
The Steward Initiative for Childhood Cancer Survivors
The Steward Initiative for Childhood Cancer Survivors has survivorship care plans to keep track of a child’s treatment journey.
These plans will keep medical practitioners well-briefed about the child’s medical history regardless of where parents or caregivers go for consultation or procedures.
Steward Initiative has also developed the Medical ID app where young cancer patients or survivors can store their medical history for quick access in an emergency.
NeedyMeds helps patients and their families find ways to get discounted medicine by sending applications to suppliers and other providers. Parents and caregivers can also apply for the group’s discount card.
Hope Lodge is a service of the American Cancer Society featuring lodging accommodations for people who need a temporary place to stay near their child’s hospital or treatment center.
Hope Lodge has over 30 locations across the U.S. and Puerto Rico.
Angel Flight East and Corporate Angel Network
These two non-profit organizations offer free flights to child patients whose treatment facilities are far from home.
Angel Flight East partners with volunteer pilots, who use their private aircraft and cover the travel costs.
Meanwhile, Corporate Angel makes arrangements with companies that run corporate aircraft. The organization’s partners offer their “empty seats” to convey patients to destinations within their business route.
Factors That Contribute to Cancer Care Costs
Medical and non-medical expenses are involved when caring for child cancer care patients. Expenses will depend on the following:
- The type of cancer a child has
- Location of hospital or treatment center
- Number or frequency of treatments
- One’s health insurance coverage
- Availability of supplemental insurance
Medical costs include:
- Cancer treatment – Depending on the child’s cancer, treatments can include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and other types of therapy.
- Doctor’s appointments – Doctor’s visits will entail paying professional fees and any tests the child has to undergo.
Even when parents or caregivers have a health insurance provider, they must shell out a fixed amount during the visit, also called a co-payment.
- Medication – Some types of cancer require targeted drug therapy but generally, all types of cancer cause side effects—for instance, nausea—that medication can ease.
- Home-based or long-term care – Some healthcare institutions have hospital-to-home programs to help families transition to home care from extended hospital-based treatment.
However, some conditions may require long-term stays at specialized children’s cancer centers.
Meeting a child’s medical requirements will require caregivers to spend on these related costs:
- Travel expenses – gas, parking fees, toll fees, taxi or ridesharing company fare, public transportation fare, airplane fare
- Special care needs – wigs, specialty clothing, dietitian’s fees, or the purchase of suitable food for the child, depending on the cancer type
- Mental, legal, and other issues – counseling for child’s mental well-being, professional advice for handling income tax filing to include cancer-related expenses
Parents may also have to leave their jobs or reduce working hours to devote more time to caregiving. This change can affect the family’s income.
Here are some steps one can take to help manage expenses more effectively:
- Review monthly expenses—food, utility and phone bills, taxes, mortgage or rent, insurance premiums, and transportation. Prioritize bills.
- Ask one’s boss or the human resources department of one’s company if they can grant a special work arrangement.
- Verify the accuracy of medical bills. Inquire from the hospital’s billing department if they have payment plans or indigent and charity care programs.
- Inquire about prescription assistance plans from the company that supplies the child’s chemotherapy and other organizations.
- Research or get help to determine compassionate allowances from the Social Security Administration.
- Inform creditors about one’s financial situation and if one has trouble paying the bills.
- If one has insurance coverage, ask the provider what treatments need to be pre-approved and get the necessary approvals.
Caregivers must make detailed notes about when they consulted their insurance company. They should write down when their discussion happened, who they spoke with, and the items covered in their conversation.
- Help for Parents and Caregivers
- Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP)
- Understanding the Costs Related to Cancer Care
- Childhood Cancer: Types of Treatment
- Children’s Oncology Group Treatment Centers