Where to Find Financial Assistance If You Have Cancer

Financial burdens are a common source of stress for those with cancer. It's especially tough for people with little or no insurance. But it can put strain on any cancer patient, their families, and caregivers. 

Fortunately, there are several financial assistance programs that help with cancer-related costs. They include government-subsidized programs, community-based services, and organizations founded by families of cancer patients or by patients for patients.

This article reviews many organizations that help with cancer-related financial assistance. It includes information about their programs, who is eligible for services, and the types of assistance they offer.

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Nongovernmental Service Organizations 

The following nongovernmental organizations are often good places to start in your search for financial assistance, most of which offer English and Spanish publications and a bilingual helpline.

CancerCare

CancerCare is a national, nonprofit agency that offers free support, information, and financial assistance to people with cancer and their loved ones. You can browse its website or call and speak to an oncology social worker to help you find resources.

CancerCare's reach also extends to healthcare professionals, providing the educational resources they need.

Financial resources include help with:

  • Transportation
  • Lodging
  • Home care
  • Childcare

For those with cats or dogs, PAWProgram is CancerCare's pet assistance and wellness program. It offers financial assistance for pet food, pet sitting, boarding fees, veterinarian expenses, medications, and more.

Cancer type: All

Who it's for: Patients, caregivers, loved ones, survivors, and healthcare professionals

AVONCares Assistance for Women Facing Cancer

AVONCares Assistance for Women Facing Cancer is a program managed by CancerCare that provides financial assistance to low-income, underinsured, and underserved women throughout the United States. Support services include transportation, childcare, and home care to improve the lives of those undergoing treatment for breast cancer or cervical cancer.

Cancer type: Breast or cervical cancer

Who it's for: Underserved women

Candlelighters Childhood Cancer Foundation (CCCF)

Candlelighters Childhood Cancer Foundation (CCCF) is a nonprofit organization that provides information, peer support, and advocacy through publications and a network of local support groups.

CCCF maintains a list of organizations to which eligible families can apply for financial assistance. It has multiple foundations in different states, look for one close to you or your treatment center.

Cancer type: Childhood cancer or blood disorders

Who it's for: Children and families

Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS)

Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS) offers information and financial aid to people who have leukemia, Hodgkin's disease, or multiple myeloma. Its programs offer a wide variety of financial support including assistance with:

  • Co-pays
  • Travel
  • Mortgage
  • Utilities
  • Vehicle expenses
  • Acute (sudden) dental work related to treatment

Cancer type: Blood Cancers such as leukemia, lymphoma, or multiple myeloma

Who it's for: Blood cancer patients

Patient Advocate Foundation (PAF)

Patient Advocate Foundation (PAF) provides education, legal counseling, and referrals to people with cancer regarding insurance, financial issues, job discrimination, and debt crisis. The PAF Co-Pay Relief Program is a subsidiary of the PAF and provides financial assistance to patients who meet eligibility criteria.

Cancer type: All

Who it's for: Patients with a chronic, life-threatening, or debilitating disease

Cancer for College

Cancer for College was founded in 1993 by a two-time cancer survivor. It provides educational scholarships to cancer survivors. There is a fast and easy scholarship application located on its website.

Cancer type: All

Who it's for: Cancer survivors

Family Reach

Family Reach has been helping families of those with cancer overcome financial barriers for 25 years. It helps cancer patients and their families with:

  • Essential bills
  • Housing payments
  • Groceries
  • Many costs of cancer

Cancer type: All

Who it's for: Cancer patients, families, and caregivers

National Foundation for Transplants

National Foundation for Transplants helps patients who need an organ transplant, This organization provides fundraising tools and guidance to help transplant patients raise funds. This support can help cover their out-of-pocket transplant-related expenses. 

Cancer type: People who require organ transplants

Who it's for: Organ transplant patients and families

The Pink Fund

The Pink Fund assists with cost-of-living expenses for breast cancer patients in active treatment. Its goal is to help breast cancer patients focus on healing, raising their families, and returning to the workplace.

Cancer type: Breast cancer

Who it's for: Breast cancer patients in active treatment

Pinky Swear Foundation

The Pinky Swear Foundation was established by Steve and Becky Chepokas in memory of their son, Mitch. Mitch was a generous child who lost his battle with cancer. He made his parents pinky swear that they would continue to financially help kids with cancer.

Pinky Swear offers financial and emotional support to children with cancer and their families. The organization does not limit requests from families or discriminate based on socioeconomic status.

Cancer type: All

Who it's for: Children with cancer

Accessia Health (Formerly Patient Services Inc., or PSI)

Accessia Health (formerly Patient Services, Inc.) was founded by patients to help other patients navigate the complexities of health care.

It offers education, financial assistance, specialized legal services, case management, and some counseling services. Its programs assist with co-pays, prescriptions, health insurance premiums, infusion and nursing services, travel, and more.

Cancer type: Any rare or chronic disease

Who it's for: Patients with rare or chronic disease

Federal and State Health Agencies

In addition to nonprofit programs, there are governmental channels that can provide direct assistance to people with cancer:

Medicaid

Medicaid is a jointly funded, federal-state health program for people who need financial assistance for medical expenses. At a minimum, states must provide home care services to people who receive federal income assistance such as Social Security Income or Aid to Families with Dependent Children.

Medicaid coverage includes part-time nursing, home care aide services, and medical supplies/equipment. Coverage information is available from local state welfare offices, state health departments, state social services agencies, or the state Medicaid office. 

Medicare

Medicare is a federal health insurance program for Americans 65 years or older, as well as disabled people under 65 and individuals with permanent liver failure. Medicare may offer reimbursement for some home care services or coverage of hospice services for those accepted into a Medicare-certified program.

Social Security Administration

Social Security Administration is the government agency that oversees Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Social Security provides a monthly income for eligible elderly and disabled people, while SSI supplements payments for those who meet income eligibility requirements.

Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP)

Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) is a federal-state partnership that offers low-cost or free health insurance coverage to uninsured children in low-income families.

Veteran Administration (VA)

Veteran Administration (VA) offers medical benefits, including cancer treatment at a VA Medical Cancer to eligible veterans and their dependents. Treatment for service-connected conditions is provided, while treatment for all other conditions may be available based on the veteran's financial need.

Hill-Burton

Hill-Burton is a program that requires healthcare facilities that receive construction funds from the federal government to provide some services to low-income individuals who cannot afford to pay for their care.

Other Means of Financial Assistance

Community Service Organizations

Community service organizations such as the Salvation Army, Lutheran Social Services, Jewish Social Services, Catholic Charities, and the Lions Club may offer financial help.

Community Fundraising and Crowdfunding

Community fundraising and crowdfunding are other mechanisms well worth considering. Many people find that friends, family, and social networks are more than eager to contribute financially if they are aware of a difficult situation.

Online fundraising websites like GoFundMe are frequently used for these kinds of campaigns, allowing families to cull wider support using social media channels.

Income Tax Deductions

Income tax deductions allow you to deduct many of your medical expenses from your annual income before taxes.

Examples of tax-deductible expenses might include:

  • Mileage for trips to and from medical appointments
  • Out-of-pocket costs for treatment
  • Prescription drugs/equipment costs
  • Cost of meals during lengthy medical stays

Your local Internal Revenue Service (IRS) office can help you determine which costs are deductible.

Summary

Economic burdens cause extra stress for patients and families fighting cancer. Financial assistance programs can help with cancer-related costs, including co-pays, utilities, transportation, etc.

There are private organizations, government-subsidized programs, and community-based services to help offset some of the costs associated with fighting cancer. Some assist with all types of cancer or chronic illnesses while others help with specific cancers or geographic regions. 

Fundraising and crowdfunding are other options worth considering. Family, friends, and social networks are often eager to help financially when they know there is a need.

A Word From Verywell

Having financial burdens when coping with cancer can be scary and frustrating. Fortunately, multiple programs and organizations can help you navigate the healthcare system, as well as provide financial assistance. 

Don’t hesitate to discuss financial concerns with your healthcare providers. They often refer cancer patients to cancer foundations, social workers, or care coordinators to link them to the financial assistance they need.

Originally written by Lisa Fayed
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