It’s no secret that medical treatment is expensive, especially when it comes to treating a rare and aggressive disease such as mesothelioma. It is imperative for patients and families to understand that financial assistance is available to cover the cost of treatment.
Treatment options vary from patient to patient depending on the treatment plan set forth by your doctor. For patients who must travel for treatment, the costs may be higher. Some of these expenses are covered by insurance, but there are ways to tame other costs. Government programs, including VA benefits and Social Security, can help in some cases. Non-profits and charities can help in others.
The biggest expenses are the treatments used to manage the disease. Many mesothelioma patients undergo multimodal treatment, which is a combination of surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. The associated costs can widely range in each case, based on the patient’s unique set of circumstances.
How to Get Financial Compensation
- Bankruptcies and Trust Funds – The federal courts have mandated that companies that produced or used asbestos and filed bankruptcy must establish a trust fund for asbestos-injured patients. In some cases, these trust funds have billions of dollars available.
- Trial Verdicts – Patients who opt to go to trial are sometimes awarded funds to offset the cost of treatment and other expenses. Even with a guilty verdict, there is no set standard for compensation. A not-guilty verdict means there is no monetary award.
- Settlements – Some asbestos manufacturers would rather settle the case than go through the expense and hassle of a trial. Again, there is no established amount for a settlement. It is based on the facts of the case and the negotiations between the attorneys.
- VA Claims – Veterans that were exposed to asbestos have the right to file claims for injuries that resulted during service. By filing a claim, veterans can hold the companies accountable that knowingly exposed all branches of the military to products that contained asbestos.
Find out how to qualify for financial assistance.
What is the Cost of Treatment?
According to the National Institute of Health, a man who is age 65 or older and diagnosed with a lung-type cancer, including mesothelioma, will pay $60,885 for the initial treatment and $7,591 for continuing treatment.
- Surgery – Lung cancer surgery, which is comparable to pleural asbestos-cancer surgery, has an average cost of about $40,000.
- Chemotherapy – The average cost for some chemotherapy treatments is up to $30,000 for an eight-week course. In some cases, an initial treatment costs about $7,000.
- Radiation – Some radiation treatments cost about $2,000 a month. This is due to the sophisticated machinery and advanced training needed for the machinery.
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Travel Costs During Treatment
Financial assistance is available to help patients cover the cost of traveling to the top treatment centers in the country. Local oncologists do not have enough experience to diagnosis or recommend treatment for this rare disease. It is vital that mesothelioma patients seek treatment from a doctor that specializes in treating this form of cancer. Mesothelioma specialists are not located in every city so extensive travel may be needed to get the best available treatment.
In waging a battle against mesothelioma, patients are urged to seek out the best medical professional available. Often that means traveling to another city or state for treatment. In addition, family or friends typically accompany the sick person for emotional and physical support. Types of travel expenses include airfare, train fare, gas, vehicle maintenance, cab costs and tolls.
How to Minimize Expenses
Even though health insurance may cover a portion of the associated costs, there is often a huge financial burden. Government programs, nonprofit charities and other groups are available to help patients who are in need.
- Government Programs – Social Security and Supplemental Security Income disability programs provide cash benefits to people who cannot work because of a disability. In many cases, pleural mesothelioma garners immediate SSI approval. The Department of Veterans Affairs as well offers similar benefits to veterans, especially for those who developed asbestos cancer as a result of military service.
- Charitable Organizations – There are many organizations that offer financial assistance to asbestos cancer patients and their families. Some offer services, such as transportation and housing, while others help pay medical bills and living expenses during treatment.
- Clinical Trials – Clinical trials allow patients access to treatment they may not otherwise been able to afford. These treatments are usually free and are frequently the most cutting-edge available.
The following non-profit organizations work to offset travel costs for mesothelioma patients during treatment:
- Angel Flights – Provides free air transportation for patients with medical and financial needs.
- Corporate Angel Network – Arranges free flights to treatment centers, usually onboard empty seats on corporate aircrafts flying on routine business.
- Angel Airlines – Provides commercial airline tickets to cancer patients for medical travel.
- Southwest Airlines Medical Transportation Grant Program – Provides free round-trip tickets to hospitals and medical transportation organizations to distribute to patients and caregivers.
- Mellace, J. The Financial Burden of Cancer Care. Social Work Today. Retrieved from http://www.socialworktoday.com/archive/032210p14.shtml
- National Cancer Institute. Cancer Prevalence and Cost of Care Projections. Retrieved from http://costprojections.cancer.gov
- American Cancer Society. Managing the Costs of Your Cancer Treatment. Retrieved from http://www.cancer.org/treatment/findingandpayingfortreatment/managinginsuranceissues/the-cost-of-cancer-treatment
- U.S. News & World Report. Medicare Costs for Cancer Treatment Soar. Retrieved from http://health.usnews.com/health-news/family-health/articles/2008/06/10/medicare-costs-for-cancer-treatment-soar
- Angel Flight. About Angel Flight. Retrieved from http://www.angelflight.com
- Southwest. Southwest Airlines Medical Transportation Grant Program. Retrieved from https://www.southwest.com/html/southwest-difference/community-involvement/charities/medical_transportation.html