“Cancer” is a word that often evokes powerful emotions of fear, despair, and anxiety. As the costs associated with cancer care continue to escalate, it’s alarming but not surprising that one in three cancer patients find themselves in debt. Beyond the physical and emotional toll, a cancer diagnosis brings with it a heavy financial burden, affecting not just the patients but also their loved ones.
Diving deeper into the financial implications, a 2022 study titled “Financial burden among cancer patients: A national‐level perspective” by D. Mudaranthakam, J. Wick, Elizabeth Calhoun, and T. Gurley, sheds light on the broader economic challenges faced by cancer patients. The study reveals that rising treatment costs and work-related limitations drive many cancer patients toward bankruptcy and lower their quality of life. This financial hardship, compounded by a lack of awareness and resources for newly diagnosed patients, has been linked to increased mortality rates [D. Mudaranthakam et al., 2022].
Recognizing this challenge, we at American Life Fund is dedicated to assisting cancer patients financially. We’ve curated a list of resources offering financial assistance to those battling cancer.
Below are some of the top resources for direct financial assistance programs for cancer patients.
Financial Assistance For Cancer Patients
Navigating the difficulties of a cancer diagnosis is challenging enough without the added pressure of financial burdens. Many patients have questions about financial assistance, insurance policies, and other monetary concerns as medical bills pile up. Our aim with this comprehensive guide is to shed light on the financial resources available to you as a cancer patient.
1) Mortgage, Rent, And Utility Assistance For Cancer Patients
When facing the challenges of cancer treatment, the last thing anyone should worry about is how to pay for basic utilities. Every bit of financial assistance can make a significant difference, providing a lifeline during trying times.
More than just financial aid, utility assistance serves as a crucial support system for cancer patients. It’s designed to help cover essential home utilities, including energy costs, regular bills, and even critical energy-related repairs. By alleviating these expenses, patients can focus their resources and energy on their treatment and recovery, free from the added stress of accumulating bills.
Several organizations and programs offer this invaluable support:
- 2-1-1: This is the telephone number of a call center that provides information and referrals to health and human services for everyday needs and during crises. They offer resources ranging from basic human needs like food banks and shelters to employment support and resources for older adults. Contact 2-1-1 for availability in your area.
- LIHEAP (Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program): Specifically designed to assist low-income households, this program offers support for home energy costs, regular bills, and even critical energy-related repairs. The contact details for this resource vary by state, so it’s essential to check their website for specific information.
- Cancer Horizons: The Cancer Horizons platform provides a plethora of resources, including utility assistance, to support cancer patients.
- The Pink Fund: Another valuable resource offering financial aid to cover utility costs for cancer patients.
- Cancer Financial Assistance Coalition (CFAC): A coalition of organizations aiming to help cancer patients navigate the financial challenges of their treatments. CFAC’s mission encompasses facilitating communication among member organizations, providing resource information, and advocating for patients facing financial burdens due to cancer treatment costs.
- Community Action Partnership: Local non-profit organizations, primarily funded through the federal government, aiming to promote self-sufficiency. They administer programs like Head Start services for children, Low-Income Home Energy Assistance (LIHEAP) utility grants, and other emergency financial assistance. You can use their website to search by zip code or call 202-265-7546 to find your local agency.
- Expect Miracles Foundation’s Samfund Grants Program for Young Adult Cancer Survivors: This program supports young adult cancer survivors in the U.S. as they recover from the financial impact of cancer treatment. They offer grants covering a wide range of post-treatment financial needs related to the cancer experience.
- Family Reach: Family Reach is dedicated to removing the financial barriers between cancer patients and their treatment. They deliver financial education, resource navigation, and emergency relief funds to patients and caregivers facing a cancer diagnosis.
- Headstrong Foundation: This foundation offers financial assistance to individuals with blood cancer and provides comfort kits to individuals with any type of cancer.
- Homeownership Preservation Foundation: The Homeownership Preservation Foundation helps homeowners navigate financial challenges and avoid mortgage foreclosure. They guide consumers onto the path of sustainable homeownership and develop innovative solutions to preserve homeownership.
- Live Like Bella Childhood Cancer Foundation: This foundation provides financial assistance for various needs to pediatric cancer families while the child is undergoing treatment.
- NetWish: NetWish provides assistance, up to $200.00, for those who can demonstrate a financial need. NetWish will issue gift certificates or provide payments directly to pay bills.
- Pinky Swear Foundation: This foundation helps kids with cancer and their families with financial and emotional support.
- Rally Foundation: Rally Foundation empowers volunteers nationwide to raise awareness and funds for childhood cancer research.
- The Andrew McDonough B+ Foundation: The Andrew McDonough B+ Foundation provides financial assistance to families of children with cancer.
- The National Children’s Cancer Society: The National Children’s Cancer Society provides financial and emotional support to families throughout the United States during their child’s cancer treatment.
2) Prescription, Treatment, And Pharmaceutical Patient Assistance Programs
The rising cost of cancer medications is a significant concern for many patients. However, there are several resources available to help alleviate these expenses.
- Drug Companies: Some pharmaceutical companies offer assistance programs for patients. These can range from helping with insurance repayments to providing discounted or even free medicine. If you’re on a specific medication, contacting the manufacturer directly for potential assistance is a good idea.
- Medicine Assistance Tool: The Medical Assistance Tool connects patients with various prescription assistance programs. Their user-friendly website lists multiple options that cancer patients might qualify for, offering free or reduced-cost prescriptions.
- Needy Meds: Needy Meds is an organization that provides a free Drug Discount Card, which can lead to savings of up to 80% on prescription medications. They can be reached at 800-503-6897 for more details and assistance.
- Medication Assistance Programs Grid: This comprehensive PDF guide, generously provided and updated by Wendalyn Andrews from The University of Arizona Cancer Center, offers a detailed overview of assistance programs. (Last updated: December 2020)
- The Assist Fund: The Assist Fund provides financial backing to chronically ill patients facing high medication costs.
- Good Days: This organization offers financial assistance by covering co-pays for individuals with life-altering conditions.
- Patient Advocate Foundation’s Co-Pay Relief (CPR): This initiative offers direct financial aid to eligible individuals for medication copayment and coinsurance expenses.
- Patient Services, Inc.: This organization aids with insurance premiums and co-payments for individuals with chronic diseases.
- RxHope.com: A platform that assists patients in obtaining free or low-cost prescription medications.
3) Travel And Transportation Assistance For Cancer Patients
When dealing with cancer, the last thing you should worry about is the price of gas; however, as trips to medical treatment centers increase, so does the cost of transportation. Gas can be EXPENSIVE – so why pay for it if you don’t have to?
- Gas and Grocery Assistance:
- Tenaciously Teal: Provides gas and grocery gift cards for cancer patients, easing the financial strain of daily expenses.
- The Cancer Card Xchange: Periodically accepts new applicants, offering support in the form of gift cards.
- NeedyMeds: A valuable resource for medical transportation and travel expenses, helping patients get to and from their treatments.
- Air Travel Assistance:
- Air Care Alliance: Air Care Alliance lists free transportation services volunteer pilots and charitable aviation groups offer.
- Air Charity Network: Air Charity Network coordinates free air transportation across the U.S. for those in need.
- Along Comes Hope®: Along Comes Hope® supports families of children with cancer, offering financial assistance for travel and advocating for policy changes.
- Angel Flight East & Angel Flight Northeast: Angel Flight East & Angel Flight Northeast are nonprofit organizations providing free air transportation for patients needing to travel for treatment.
- Corporate Angel Network: Corporate Angel Network arranges free air travel using empty seats on private and corporate jets for cancer patients.
- LifeLine Pilots: LifeLine Pilots offers free air transportation through volunteer pilots for those with medical needs.
- Mercy Medical Angels: Mercy Medical Angels provides free or low-cost transportation for medical purposes.
- PALS (Patient AirLift Services): Patient AirLift Services arranges free air travel for those needing medical services and unable to fly commercially.
Free gift cards for breast cancer patients
Hope Chest provides financial assistance to breast cancer patients through gift cards for groceries, gas, and other necessities.
One of the quickest and easiest ways to supplement cancer costs is fundraising. With a little upfront investment of your time and a good social network, fundraising can be an effective tool for harnessing financial assistance for cancer.
Online fundraising platforms like GoFundMe allow you to post your need/cause and share that need/cause with others. The downside is you only receive a portion of the funds raised. It can be an efficient way to help relieve cancer treatment-related expenses.
The second method of fundraising worth considering–and from which you’ll get to keep all profits– is known as a personal fundraiser. With this type of fundraiser, you, your friends, and your family raise funds by offering something to the community, such as a bake sale or car wash.
Feel free to check out MedGift Advocacy Services for a list of fundraising ideas.
Don’t be afraid to seek help. You deserve it, no matter what your financial situation is.
5) Health Insurance
Health insurance is important in providing financial assistance for people with cancer. Here’s how health insurance can assist:
- Coverage of Treatment Costs: Health insurance typically covers a significant portion of the costs associated with cancer treatments, including surgeries, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and targeted therapies.
- Prescription Drug Coverage: Many health insurance premiums have prescription drug benefits, which can reduce the out-of-pocket costs for cancer medications, some of which can be extremely expensive.
- Hospital and Doctor Visits: Regular check-ups, diagnostic tests, hospital stays, and follow-up visits can add up. Health insurance helps cover these costs, ensuring patients get the necessary care without the added financial stress.
- Specialized Treatments: Some advanced treatments or experimental therapies might be covered by insurance, especially if they’re deemed medically necessary.
- Home Health Care: If a cancer patient requires care at home, some health insurance plans might cover the costs of home health care services.
- Rehabilitation and Therapy: Post-treatment rehabilitation, physical therapy, or occupational therapy might be necessary for some patients. Health insurance can help cover these costs.
- Durable Medical Equipment: Items like wheelchairs, walkers, or oxygen equipment, if required, might be covered or partially covered by health insurance.
- Mental Health Services: Coping with a cancer diagnosis can be emotionally challenging. Many insurance plans provide coverage for mental health services, including counseling or therapy.
- Preventive Services: Some insurance plans cover preventive services, like cancer screenings, at no extra cost. Early detection can lead to more effective and less costly treatments.
- Caps on Out-of-Pocket Costs: Many health insurance plans have an annual out-of-pocket maximum. Once a patient reaches this amount, the insurance covers 100% of the allowed amount for covered services.
- Assistance with Appeals: If a claim is denied, many health insurance providers offer assistance with the appeals process, guiding patients on how to get the necessary coverage.
- Case Management Services: Some insurers offer case management services for patients with serious conditions like cancer. Case managers can help patients understand their diagnosis, treatment options, and the benefits available to them.
- Financial Counseling: Some insurance providers offer financial counseling services to help patients understand their coverage, out-of-pocket costs, and potential financial assistance options.
6) Your Life Insurance Policy Pays You (Through a Viatical Settlement)
Anyone struggling with a severe medical condition knows that health insurance coverage doesn’t always cover all costs. You may still face significant out-of-pocket expenses in the United States, even with government programs such as Medicare and Medicaid.
Most people don’t know that a life insurance policy is considered an asset that you own, meaning insurance policyholders can sell their life insurance for a lump-sum cash payment, also known as a viatical settlement or viatical.
Not only can you pay towards your medical expenses, living expenses, or even a luxurious vacation with your loved ones. As the life insurance holder, the choice is uniquely yours.
In some cases, individuals can receive 70% of their life insurance policy in as little as 2 weeks through a viatical settlement!
How a Viatical Settlement Works
Unlike life settlements, viatical settlements are designed for life insurance policyholders with life-threatening illnesses, reduced life expectancies, or chronic health issues.
Cancer patients with life insurance policies can enter agreements with third-party buyers to sell their life insurance policy in return for a lump-sum payment (more than the cash value of the life insurance policy but less than the death benefit).
The viatical settlement company takes over by paying the monthly insurance policy premiums and receives the death benefit after the seller’s passing.
Viatical Settlements & Taxes
With a viatical settlement, the funds are tax-free and non-regulated, meaning YOU decide how they are spent. See more with our blog about viatical settlement and taxes.
How To Start The Viatical Process
If you’re considering selling your life insurance policy, American Life Fund is here to help. For us, the most important thing is alleviating the financial burden associated with cancer care, reducing stress, and enabling you to spend more time on the things that matter.
Through our hassle-free application process, American Life Fund will help you get an immediate cash offer for your insurance policy.
7) Cancer-Specific Organizations And Financial Grants
There is a multitude of organizations that offer financial assistance for cancer patients through grants. This type of financial assistance is also known as a cancer-specific financial grant.
While some grants are generalized and open to applicants with all cancer types, others are specific to certain cancers. The best way to search for financial assistance for cancer patients that you may qualify for is through your local nonprofit organizations.
When looking online, try searching for “cancer financial grants,” “cancer help near me,” “cancer patient discounts,” or grants specific to a certain type of cancer, such as “lung cancer financial grants” or ” metastatic breast cancer treatment grants,” for example. The best part about cancer financial grants is that they are free money and don’t come with strings attached.
The Colorectal Cancer Alliance offers limited financial assistance for cancer patients through a one-time financial stipend for up to $300 and The Breast Cancer Charities of America offers grants for up to $1,000, accepting applications monthly from the 1st of the month to the 5th of the month.
Regarding financial grants, the most challenging part is locating a nonprofit organization with funding available. Although it can be time-consuming to locate grants, the time invested can pay for itself. Don’t be discouraged–persistence is key, and resources are out there.
The following organizations offer financial assistance in the form of grants to cancer patients in need:
Visit our blog for a more comprehensive guide on organizations that help cancer patients financially.