This leaf of the Help and Support Limb of the Quality of Life Tree will give you ideas and contact information for ways to find help with your medical bills.
Note: Sometimes you will be asked to fill out forms to apply for help. Native Americans often fill in, "Indian Health Service or (IHS)" in the form on the line that asks about insurance coverage.
The Indian Health Service is not insurance.
If you write "IHS" in on any form that asks what insurance coverage you have, your requests for help will probably be turned down or denied.
If IHS is the only way you get medical care, leave the line blank.
Please keep these tips in mind as you start your search for help with paying medical bills:
Many hospitals and clinics have unadvertised services to help people find and apply for help with medical bills.
When you get a medical bill that you cannot afford to pay:
- Open the bill as soon as your receive it.
- Call the contact number on the bill.
- Tell them, "I received my bill and would like to speak to someone about my account."
- Tell them, "I want to honor my financial responsibilities but I am struggling financially and physically with cancer right now."
- Ask, "Do you offer any resources to help people with their medical bills?"
- Ask, "Does the hospital (or clinic or doctor's office) have a social worker or financial office that can help me find ways to handle this bill?"
- Write down the names and contact numbers of any resources they suggest and carefully follow through with each suggestion. Keep notes on each follow-up contact you make. (TIP: See keeping your search organized)
- Ask, "Do you know of any way my overall bill can be reduced?"
- Ask, "What is the lowest amount I can pay each month to keep my account in good standing?"
- If you can't pay that amount tell the person, "I really can't manage that payment right now. Is there any way that for the next year I could pay $____ or $_____on a monthly basis?" Ask if, for the next year, they could accept a payment of whatever you can manage, even if that is only $ 5 or $10 a month.
- For the next year do everything you can to send in that amount of money on your bill. Keep a record of the date and the amount of each payment.
- When a year is up and you have been sending in that small payment each month on time, they will be very likely to continue accepting that small amount without raising the cost of what you need to send each month.
- Keep in touch with the accounting office. Call and tell them how you have been following up on their suggestions and trying to get assistance to meet your expenses.
- Thank them for their patience, understanding and assistance in this difficult situation.
Non profit Organizations that provide or will help locate Financial Assistance
CancerCare is a national nonprofit agency that offers free support, information, financial assistance, and practical help to people with cancer and their loved ones. Financial assistance is given in the form of limited grants for certain treatment expenses. Services are provided by oncology social workers and are available in person, over the telephone, and through the agency's Web site. Information about financial assistance for all cancers is available at www.cancercare.org/get_help/assistance/cc_financial.php.
Telephone: 1-800-813-4673 (1-800-813-HOPE)
Web site: www.cancercare.org
Financial Assistance for Women with Breast Cancer
Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, in partnership with the CancerCare, is pleased to offer a financial assistance program to help underserved, uninsured and underinsured women with breast cancer. Grants are provided to assist women who qualify with the costs of:
- Oral medication for cancer treatment
- Pain and anti-nausea medication
- Lymphedema support and supplies
- Durable medical equipment ordered by a physician
Financial assistance is also available for home care, childcare, and transportation to treatment. (Financial assistance is granted to women who meet CancerCare's eligibility criteria.)
Telephone: 1.800 I'M AWARE
Web site: www.komen.org/intradoc-cgi/...
CancerCare also operates the AVONCares Program for Medically Underserved Women, in partnership with the Avon Foundation. This program provides financial assistance to low-income, under- and uninsured, underserved women throughout the country who need supportive services (transportation, child care, and home care) related to the treatment of breast and cervical cancers.
Telephone: 1-800-813-4673 (1-800-813-HOPE)
Web site: www.cancercare.org
The LIVESTRONG SurvivorCare partnership between CancerCare and the Lance Armstrong Foundation provides financial assistance to cancer survivors. For patients who are 6 months post-treatment with no evidence of disease, limited financial assistance is available for transportation to follow-up appointments, medical copays, cancer-related medications, and neuropsychological evaluation.
Telephone: 1- 866-235-7205
Web sites: www.cancercare.org · www.livestrong.org
The American Cancer Society (ACS) offers programs that help cancer patients, family members, and friends cope with the treatment decisions and emotional challenges they face.
Telephone: 1-800-227-2345 (1-800-ACS-2345)
Web site: www.cancer.org
The ACS offers Taking Charge of Money Matters, a workshop for people with cancer and their loved ones about financial concerns that may arise during or after cancer treatment, regardless of the person's health insurance coverage. The session provides an opportunity to discuss financial matters with guest speakers who are knowledgeable about financial planning. More information about this workshop is available at ACS Taking Charge of Money Matters Web page.
Telephone: 1-800-770-8287 (1-800-770-TBTS)
Web site: www.tbts.org
The Patient Advocate Foundation's (PAF) Colorectal CareLine is designed to provide assistance to patients with colorectal cancer. It offers financial aid through the Financial Aid Fund for those diagnosed with colorectal cancer. For more information, call the Colorectal CareLine team at 1-866-657-8634.
The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS) offers information and financial aid to patients in significant financial need who have leukemia, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, Hodgkin's lymphoma, or multiple myeloma. The LLS's "Patient Financial Aid" Web page provides more information about the types of service available, application forms, and eligibility requirements at www.leukemia-lymphoma.org/all_page?item_id=4603 .
Web site: www.leukemia-lymphoma.org
Government-Based Sources of Financial Assistance
The Health Resources and Services Administration's (HRSA) Bureau of Primary Health Care offers Health Centers that provide health care to low-income and other vulnerable populations. Health Centers care for people regardless of their ability to pay. They provide primary and preventive health care, as well as services such as transportation and translation. To locate a Health Center, visit the "Service Delivery Sites"
Web site: http://hrsa.gov/
GovBenefits.gov is a partnership of Federal agencies with a shared vision to provide improved, personalized access to government assistance programs. This Web site's online screening tool is free, easy-to-use, and completely confidential. The user answers a series of questions, then the Web site generates a list of government benefit programs that the user may be eligible to receive, along with information about how the user can apply.
Telephone: 1-800-333-4636 (1-800-FED-INFO)
Web site: www.govbenefits.gov/govbenefits_en.portal
Hill-Burton is a program through which hospitals receive construction and modernization funds from the Federal Government. Hospitals that receive Hill-Burton funds are required by law to provide a reasonable volume of services to people who cannot afford to pay for their hospitalization and make their services available to all residents in the facility's area. Information about Hill-Burton facilities is available by calling the toll-free number or visiting the Web site shown below. A brochure about the program is available in Spanish.
Telephone: 1-800-638-0742 (Maryland residents call 1-800-492-0359)
Web site: www.hrsa.gov/hillburton/default.htm
The Social Security Administration (SSA) is the Government agency that oversees Social Security and Supplemental Security Income. Social Security provides monthly income for eligible elderly and disabled individuals. More information about these and other SSA programs is available by calling the toll-free number listed below. Spanish-speaking staff are available. Additional contact information for the SSA is available at www.ssa.gov/reach.htm .
Web site: www.ssa.gov/
Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is administered by the SSA and supplements Social Security payments for aged, blind, and disabled people with little or no income. It provides cash to meet basic needs for food, clothing, and shelter. Information on eligibility, coverage, and how to file a claim is available from the SSA. The Benefit Eligibility Screening Tool is available at https://s044a90.ssa.gov/apps12/best/benefits/ .
Web site: www.ssa.gov/notices/supplemental-security-income/
Medicaid (Medical Assistance), a jointly funded, Federal-State health insurance program for people who need financial assistance for medical expenses, is coordinated by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). At a minimum, states must provide home care services to people who receive Federal income assistance such as Social Security Income and Aid to Families with Dependent Children. Medicaid coverage includes part-time nursing, home care aide services, and medical supplies and equipment. Information about coverage is available from local state welfare offices, state health departments, state social services agencies, or the state Medicaid office. Check the local telephone directory for the number to call. Information about specific state contacts is also available on the Web site listed below. Spanish-speaking staff are available in some offices.
Web site: www.cms.gov/medicaid/consumer.asp
The Breast and Cervical Cancer Treatment Act provides, in most states, Medicaid coverage for treatment to women who have been screened for and diagnosed with breast or cervical cancer, including precancerous conditions, through the National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program. For more information about eligibility and contacts for this program, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) "Breast and Cervical Cancer Prevention and Treatment Act of 2000" Web page, which is located at www.cdc.gov/CANCER/nbccedp/legislation/law106-354.htm.
Medicare is a Federal health insurance program also administered by the CMS. Eligible individuals include those who are 65 or older, people of any age with permanent kidney failure, and disabled people under age 65. Medicare is divided into two parts, Part A and Part B. Part A pays for hospital care, home health care, hospice care, and care in Medicare-certified nursing facilities. Part B covers medically necessary services, including diagnostic studies, physicians' services, durable home medical equipment, and ambulance transportation; Part B also covers screening exams for several types of cancer. To receive information on eligibility, explanations of coverage, and related publications, call Medicare at the number listed below or visit their Web site. Some publications are available in Spanish. Spanish-speaking staff are available.
Telephone: 1-800-633-4227 (1-800-MEDICARE)
Web site: www.medicare.gov
The State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) is a Federal-State partnership that offers low-cost or free health insurance coverage to uninsured infants, children, and teens. Callers will be referred to the program in their state for further information about what the program covers, who is eligible, and the minimum qualifications. In most states, uninsured children age 18 and younger whose families earn up to $34,100 a year (for a family of four) are eligible. For a list of health insurance coverage and eligibility by state, go to www.insurekidsnow.gov/states.htm .
Telephone: 1-877-543-7669 (1-877-KIDS-NOW)
Web site: www.insurekidsnow.gov
The Veterans Administration (VA) provides eligible veterans with treatment for service-connected injuries and other medical conditions. The VA offers limited medical benefits to family members of eligible veterans. The VA cancer program provides users of the veterans health care system easy access to cancer prevention, detection, and treatment services. Its Web site offers cancer facts, information about care, a list of VA-designated comprehensive cancer centers, and the VA's national cancer strategy. For more information about the VA cancer program, visit the VA Cancer Web page at www1.va.gov/cancer/index.cfm. Some publications are available in Spanish. Spanish-speaking staff are available in some offices.
Telephone: 1-877-222-8387 (1-877-222-VETS)
Web site: www1.va.gov/health/