An unfortunate concern you may have if you hear the words, “you have breast cancer,” is paying for treatment. Emily Kitchen, manager of external affairs of the Patient Access Network (PAN) Foundation, wrote this post to provide you with helpful information to overcome the financial hurdles of this diagnosis. Get more information by tweeting with us and Ms. Kitchen on June 25 for our Twitter chat, #LBBCchat: Coping With the Financial Impact of Breast Cancer.
You just found out you’ve been diagnosed with breast cancer. You’re worried about your treatment, your family and friends. The last thing that you should be stressed about is how you will be able to afford your treatment. As one of our patients mentioned to me, the hardest part about cancer shouldn’t be how to afford it. However, with more and more underinsured people, this is becoming a harsh reality. Many will not even find out how much their treatment will cost until they arrive at the pharmacy to pick up their prescription. Those who can’t afford their treatments are often unable to continue therapy or medicine regularly or end up refraining from seeking care all together.
This is where organizations like the Patient Access Network (PAN) Foundation, Triage Cancer and local institutions like Community Legal Services (CLS) of Philadelphia can help. PAN offers help and hope to people with chronic or life-threatening illnesses by providing copayment assistance to those for whom cost limits access to breakthrough medical treatments. For instance, PAN can provide $7,500 a year to a patient with metastatic breast cancer.
Here are some tips in advocating for yourself when faced with financial challenges and finding financial assistance:
- Familiarize yourself with your type of insurance and your amount of out-of-pocket expenses.
- Do not be afraid to ask your healthcare provider, pharmacist or caregiver if you have financial concerns as you begin seeking treatment. Providers and specialty pharmacies refer most of our patients to us. They will be able to make suggestions of organizations that can help with co-payments, travel assistance and other out-of-pocket expenses.
- If an organization like PAN cannot provide financial assistance, ask if they have suggestions for organizations that have funding available and can help. Even if PAN can’t help, we are happy to suggest other places that can provide help financially. Check the criteria of each organization to see if you qualify.
- Check organizations’ websites for resource guides that highlight other organizations that help financially or in other ways. Visit PAN’s Patient Resources which highlights patient support organizations and program brochures. Visit Living Beyond Breast Cancer’s Recommended Resources section on financial concerns, and get national, state and healthcare reform resources and information on Triage Cancer’s website.
PAN has helped more than 280,000 patients and provided $400 million in financial assistance over the last 10 years. That includes helping over 11,000 women with breast cancer afford their medications and treatments since 2011. So remember you are not alone – there are organizations out there to help you make sure you continue living a relatively normal and productive lifestyle and don’t feel such a financial burden.
To learn more about the Patient Access Network Foundation and our nearly 60 assistance programs that help patients, go to www.panfoundation.org or visit us on Facebook and Twitter. To apply for a grant with PAN call (866) 316-7263 or visit our website to apply online. You will be able to find out instantly if you are approved for a grant.
The information and resources do not stop here – sign-up for an email reminder to tweet with us on Wednesday, June 25!
Follow our other panelists on social media:
- Triage Cancer, Facebook and Twitter
- Monica Fawzy Bryant, Esq., Twitter
- Community Legal Services (CLS) of Philadelphia, Facebook and Twitter
- Debby Freedman, Twitter
- Sarah Merchant, Insert Boobs Here, Facebook and Twitter
Visit lbbc.org/events to learn more about the Twitter chat and our panelists.