Mesothelioma patients often struggle to pay the expenses associated with disease treatment because the costs often go far beyond medical bills. Mesothelioma treatment expenditures also often include costs for travel, meals, car rentals and caregivers, among others.
Experts advise asbestos-cancer patients have open and honest discussions with their treatment partners, including doctors and family members, about the expenses associated with the disease. Everyone involved should understand the costs related to treatment and how the bills will be paid.
The cost for any cancer treatment is expensive, even with health insurance. For a rare disease such as mesothelioma, treatment costs can be even more expensive because the disease is difficult to treat and may require specialized services.
Costs Associated with Treatment
Mesothelioma is frequently treated with a combination of surgery, chemotherapy and radiation, which are very expensive. Asbestos-cancer specialists must tailor treatment protocols based on individual needs, driving the costs up even further.
Since mesothelioma is such a rare disease and treatments are so individualized, it is difficult to outline exact costs. However, lung cancer treatment expenses are a close approximation for mesothelioma treatment fees.
The American Cancer Society found the average cost for advanced-stage lung cancer treatment was about $280,000, including surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Patients with better health insurance plans typically pay co-pays and up to 50 percent of coinsurance, which can total about $12,000 out of pocket. If treatment includes immunotherapy, a promising form of cancer care, the costs can increase another $100,000.
The American Cancer Society’s estimates do not include some ancillary expenditures, or so-called hidden costs, that come with long-term disease management.
Procedures and Services for Mesothelioma Treatment
In general, the following procedures, services and expenditures are associated with mesothelioma treatment:
- Diagnostic testing
- Lab work
- Hospital stays
- Follow-up appointments
- Alternative treatments
- Travel expenses
- Caregiver costs
- Special diet
- Mental health services
- Time off work
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Options for Paying for Medical Expenses
In May 2017, the U.S. Federal Reserve found 44 percent of Americans do not have enough cash to cover a $400 emergency. Most would have to use credit or sell items to cover the expense, the Fed found. When faced with making life-or-death medical decisions, many patients are ill prepared to handle the financial implications. There are several options for covering medical expenses:
- Health insurance – Even with the best health insurance, there are associated costs that include co-pays, deductibles, co-insurance and premiums. Federal law requires most private insurance plans limit annual out-of-pocket spending to $7,150 for individual plans and $14,300 for family plans. At the same time, the federal health insurance plan Medicare does not have an upper limit for out-of-pocket expenses.
- Self pay – Without health insurance, most patients must pay completely out of pocket for the expenses. Luckily many physicians and hospitals offer discounts for self-pay patients. For many, the discounts may not be enough to offset the costs.
- Asbestos trust funds – Asbestos trust funds were established as a way to financially protect anyone who has been exposed to asbestos and diagnosed with mesothelioma or other asbestos-related diseases. There is about $30 billion collectively in multiple trust established by bankrupt companies. Anyone considering pursuing funds from asbestos trusts should seek assistance to file a successful claim. The money can be used to cover any and all medical and living expenses.
- Mesothelioma lawsuit – Personal injury and mesothelioma wrongful death claims help patients and their families cover the financial responsibilities that come with asbestos cancer. Anyone who is considering a mesothelioma lawsuit is advised to act quickly after a diagnosis because state statutes of limitations set deadlines for legal claims.
- Workers’ compensation – Since asbestos exposure is directly connected to various occupations (including military service), many asbestos cancer patients are eligible for workers’ comp. The benefits could include disability payments and medical care. In some states, anyone who receives workers’ comp gives up the right to sue.
- Charitable organizations – Charitable organizations nationwide help cancer patients who are low income or have no insurance to pay for medical bills. The services and financial assistance available varies widely by organization and type of illness.
- VA benefits – The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs acknowledges mesothelioma as a service-related illness and provides benefits for veterans who can prove asbestos exposure occurred as a result of service. Benefits include medical, financial and housing.
Tips to Avoid Medical Debt
Studies have found medical debt accounts for an overwhelming number of bankruptcies in the United States. Mesothelioma patients who are faced with mounting medical expenses have several options for avoiding debt. Some of the leading tips include the following:
- Don’t avoid bills – Medical bills are more likely to go into collections if the bills go unpaid. Contact the providers if there are problems paying the bills.
- Try to negotiate your medical bills – Some providers will help patients who are struggling financially by allowing patients to pay a lower amount.
- File for a mesothelioma bankruptcy trust – Asbestos trust were formed to ensure mesothelioma patients are financially secure while undergoing treatment. The trusts were created after scores of companies ignored the dangers asbestos posed on workers.
How We Can Help
Our Patient Advocates put patients in touch with the services they need and help patients understand all of their available options to pay for treatment and living expenses.
Our free resources include printed literature about the disease and your medical options, instant access to the leading mesothelioma specialists and assistance getting access to financial resources. Contact us now for more information.
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- 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