How to Pay for Mesothelioma Treatment
Paying for all of these costs may seem overwhelming at first glance, but there is financial help available from different sources that can help lighten the financial load.
Health insurance is one resource that many patients of an asbestos-related disease will often lean on heavily for the costs associated with treatment.
Health insurance plans can cover a wide range of treatments for mesothelioma, however, they may not fully cover the costs of each treatment. This can leave patients with a high out-of-pocket cost for treatment and coverage will vary between plans.
It is best to call and ask your healthcare provider about the coverage of your specific plan. Good questions to ask include:
- What are my deductibles?
- What are my copays?
- What percentage of my treatment cost will I pay for each treatment type?
- Do I need pre-approval for each treatment before it starts?
- Is my Doctor in-network?
Additionally, be sure to ask about how the Affordable Care Act (ACA) may affect your mesothelioma coverage, as it included some measures that may help provide additional coverage for asbestos patients.
According to the American Cancer Society in its 2020 Cost of Cancer report, the annual out-of-pocket costs (such as deductibles, copays, and premiums) were about $12,046 per year for those on an insurance plan, while those without insurance could pay amounts exceeding $140,000 per year.
It is important for mesothelioma patients to know the details of their insurance plan so they are able to budget based on accurate information.
There are many charities set up by companies, hospitals, and nonprofits that may help provide financial relief for the costs of mesothelioma treatment. This can be in the form of direct financial help for treatment, or transportation to appointments and treatment locations.
As mentioned earlier, experimental treatments and clinical trials can come at a lower financial cost to the patient. Patients can often receive free treatment by being a part of a clinical trial. Not all patients will qualify for these treatments, however it is important to research the possibility of being in a clinical trial as it can greatly reduce the financial burden of treatment.
Government Programs for Mesothelioma Patients
There are government programs available to some mesothelioma victims and patients, such as Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security Disability Insurance, and Veteran benefits.
Medicaid includes benefits such as personal care and nursing home care services, and helps people with low income pay for medical costs.
Medicare is available to individuals who are age 65 or older, and is a federal health insurance plan that may help cover some medical costs associated with treatment.
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is also a federal insurance program that can help those with a medical condition that prevents or restricts their ability to work and can provide financial help for those individuals.
Veteran benefits exist for those who are veterans and are suffering from an asbestos-related illnesses. These benefits come from the Veterans Affairs (VA) disability compensation. These amounts will vary based on several factors, including the type and severity of the disease and the number of dependents the veteran has.
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What Are The Costs of Mesothelioma?
The costs of mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases can vary, based on several factors such as the severity of the illness and the specific treatment plan for the patient.
Some of the common costs associated with care for mesothelioma patients include:
- Surgery – The common forms of surgery for mesothelioma patients include extrapleural pneumonectomy (EPP), pleurectomy and decortication (P/D), and cytoreduction surgery. The average cost for surgery for mesothelioma patients is about $54,000, however this can vary based on specific treatment plans and other factors.
- Chemotherapy – This is one of the most common forms of treatments for mesothelioma patients. Oftentimes, a combination of pemetrexed and cisplatin are used with an average cost of about $38,800 for the recommended six cycles of treatment.
- Multimodal treatments – Multimodal treatments can help prolong patients’ life expectancies by combining multiple treatment approaches, like surgery and chemotherapy. Because this is a combination of various types of treatment, the costs can vary greatly.
- Emerging treatments – New and experimental treatments may be an option for mesothelioma patients, however, the costs associated with them are generally more difficult to estimate. They may be more affordable for patients due to the fact that many experimental treatments are funded by the government or may be covered by insurance.
- Immunotherapy – Immunotherapy can have different costs depending on the type of drug used and the dosage. Some insurances can reduce the costs associated with these drugs. Annual costs for immunotherapy can be around $150,000 per year for some but will vary from patient to patient.
- Radiation therapy – Radiation therapy costs will vary depending on the duration of each session and location, however some data suggests that the initial phase of radiation for lung cancer patients is about $4,000. This can vary based on several factors for each patient and based on the insurance that they have.
Hidden Costs of Asbestos Exposure
In addition to the costs mentioned above, there are some less obvious costs related to mesothelioma and treatment. These can include:
- Special diets and high-quality nutrition
- Cancer coaching
- Home care and nursing
- Side-effect reducing treatments
- Hospice care
- Lost wages
- Mental health and therapy
Many of these costs will vary greatly between patients, and many are not covered by insurance. Additionally, it is important to keep in mind that some treatments may have recurring costs, such as a second round of chemotherapy, and that end-of-life costs tend to be more expensive than initial care.
You should document these costs in preparation for filing an asbestos claim.
Legal Action for Compensation
Some patients of mesothelioma or an asbestos-related disease may be eligible for compensation from a lawsuit or an asbestos claim. If your asbestos exposure and subsequent illness was caused by an asbestos company or their products, you may be able to receive compensation.
Compensation can come from a lawsuit, settlement, or asbestos trust fund. An experienced mesothelioma lawyer will be able to help you find all of the potential avenues for compensation available to you based on your specific situation.
When considering an asbestos claim, it is important to keep detailed records of all medical costs, as well as costs to you and your family due to loss of work and pain.
If you or a family member is dealing with the financial burden of mesothelioma, contact a mesothelioma lawyer to find what financial resources are available to help you through the process. You may be able to receive compensation that can greatly reduce the financial burden and stress of treatment.
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- Cancer Action Network. The Costs of Cancer, 2020 Edition. Retrieved from https://www.fightcancer.org/sites/default/files/National%20Documents/Costs-of-Cancer-2020-10222020.pdf
- University of California San Francisco. Extrapleural Pneumonectomy. Retrieved from https://surgery.ucsf.edu/conditions–procedures/extrapleural-pneumonectomy.aspx
- 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