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Cancer Awareness and Prevention

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Managing the costs of fighting cancer

Cancer takes a toll on people's bodies and minds and even the people around them. Upon being diagnosed with cancer, people understandably focus on the toll the disease may take. While the physical and mental toll can be considerable, the financial toll can be significant as well.

AARP says that the average costs for cancer treatment are around $150,000. And while good insurance plans may cover the majority of those costs, patients may still face a bill of $4,000 or more in copays, deductibles and other expenses.

Cancer also may impact a person's ability to work, further affecting their financial security. According to studies from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center in Seattle, cancer patients are 2.5 times more likely to declare bankruptcy than healthy people.

People diagnosed with cancer and their families have a lot on their plates. The following are some tips to help such people handle the financial toll that cancer can take.

• Speak with the oncologist to find out what is involved in the proposed treatment plan and how long the treatment will run. This may make it easier to plan for upcoming expenses.

• Consult with insurance companies, if applicable, to see which types of treatments will be covered and at what rate. Certain insurance policies may cover all of the treatment. Others may require you meet a deductible, and then there may be coinsurance requirements that must be met.

• Talk to a case worker to see if there are any programs available that help pay for treatment. The American Cancer Society says payment plans or financial assistance may be available.

• Be honest with doctors about your financial situation to see if treatments can be spaced out to help budget for care without affecting prognosis.

• Many pharmaceutical companies offer assistance to individuals having trouble paying for their prescriptions. There also may be vouchers and discounts available for prescriptions if one is willing to do a little research.

• Certain charitable grants and coverage for life and travel expenses are available through nonprofit organizations. A patient also can contact CancerCare, a service offering counseling, support groups and financial assistance to those who need help, or other similar companies for more help.

The expenses associated with cancer treatment can make it hard for patients to make ends meet. Getting cancer care often means working with healthcare industry professionals to finance treatment.

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