Navigating Coverage With Lung Cancer Resources

Living with lung cancer can come with stress and anxiety. One worry you may have is the cost of your cancer treatment. 

Costs associated with lung cancer treatment can accumulate quickly—from co-pays (a set amount you pay per service) to prescriptions to missed days at work. It’s important to be aware of the added expenses and know where to turn when you need assistance. 

This article will review some of the ways that people with lung cancer can receive support, both emotional and financial. 

Son comforts father who has lung cancer

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List of Resources and Help for Lung Cancer 

Many resources exist to help people living with lung cancer. These resources begin with lung cancer screening, the go through diagnosis and treatment. Emotional support is also available.

Screening

A screening study for lung cancer is available for those who are at high risk for developing the disease. A screening low-dose computed tomography (LDCT) scan is recommended based on smoking history and age.

Insurance plans and Medicare often cover this screening test. Under the Affordable Care Act, insurance plans have to cover lung cancer screening for those at high risk of lung cancer between the ages of 50 and 80, at no cost.

The American Lung Association’s Saved by the Scan is a good resource for lung cancer screening information. Here, you can find helpful tips about screening, what to discuss with your healthcare team, and how to work with your insurance company.

Financial

The cost of lung cancer care is high and is expected to continue to rise. Even with insurance, costs such as prescription medications, co-pays, and even transportation getting to and from medical appointments can add up and become a financial burden.

Many resources exist for those who need financial assistance. Some of the resources include:

Therapy and Support Groups

Emotional support is very much needed for people living with lung cancer. Learning how to deal with the emotional effects cancer causes is often something that requires extra assistance, either through individual counseling or groups.

These are some of the support resources available for people living with lung cancer: 

Treatment-Specific Resources

Treatments for lung cancer may come with uncertainty about how they work and how much they cost. A person may need knowledge about their condition as well as financial assistance.

What Insurance May Not Cover

Each insurance plan is different, so check with your carrier to see what they will cover. Some items not typically covered by insurance include:

  • Acupuncture
  • Other holistic therapy
  • Over-the-counter (OTC) medications
  • Experimental cancer treatment
  • Travel expenses

Palliative Care 

Palliative care is a part of health care that focuses on improving symptoms and quality of life. Palliative care can be provided by a specialized healthcare team that works alongside your cancer treatment team. The Palliative Care Provider Directory can help you find a palliative care team in your area. 

Chemotherapy 

Chemotherapy is medication that affects how cells divide. It aims to slow the growth and spread of cancer cells. One study estimates chemotherapy for lung cancer can be over $8,000 a month. The list of financial resources mentioned above can help.

Being informed about the potential side effects of chemotherapy is an important aspect of cancer care. The following websites are a good resource for educational information for chemotherapy. 

Surgery

Surgery may be a treatment option available to some with lung cancer. It may be used to cure early stage lung cancer, or used palliatively, to treat a particular symptom even if lung cancer can’t be cured.

Information and support about lung cancer surgery can be found through the following resources:

Transportation 

Transportation costs from home to all of the appointments needed can be expensive. Those who are unable to drive themselves are burdened by transportation issues as well. Resources to assist with transportation include:

Working With Insurance

Working with your insurance company can be overwhelming and stressful. Terms that you may not be familiar with, such as "co-pay," "co-insurance," and "deductible," may seem like a foreign language.

One of the most important things to do is to stay organized. A lot of paperwork accompanies cancer treatment. Keeping a folder or file with them can be helpful if you ever need to speak with your insurance company.

If you must call your insurance company during your treatment, keep a log of the date and time of the conversation, whom you spoke with, and what occurred during the call. Taking notes can be helpful to refer to in the future if additional phone calls need to be made.

Your cancer care team may also have people in their office, such as a social worker or financial counselor, who you can go to with questions about bills and insurance. 

Items Insurance May Cover

Some items that insurance may cover include:

  • Healthcare provider appointments
  • Tests and imaging
  • Hospital stays
  • Prescription medication
  • Treatments such as chemotherapy, radiation therapy
  • Procedures such as surgery
  • Wig (cranial prosthesis) for hair loss from cancer treatment
  • Physical therapy, speech therapy, occupational therapy

Help If You Are Uninsured

Not having health insurance can lead to significant medical bills from lung cancer. If you’re uninsured, there may be some ways to get assistance in covering bills or obtaining insurance. In addition to previously mentioned websites for assistance in paying for medical bills and other expenses, the following are ways to obtain coverage:

  • Medicare/Medicaid: These are government-funded healthcare programs for people who meet the criteria.
  • Veterans Health Administration (VHA): Military veterans may qualify for care through the VHA at their facilities or in community facilities.
  • HRSA Health Center program: These health centers, from the Health Resources & Services Administration, are available in underserved communities. Though they may not all offer cancer care specifically, they can be a good place for primary care health services, and provide referrals to cancer facilities in the area.
  • Affordable Care Act MarketplaceHealthcare.gov is where the uninsured can go to purchase health insurance. Costs vary based on income and the amount of coverage.

Treatment and Clinical Trial News 

Clinical trials are frequently conducted to determine the best ways to treat lung cancer. Treatments have advanced over the years and have allowed people living with lung cancer to live longer lives, even if they aren’t being treated for a cure.

One of the biggest areas of research for lung cancer is targeted therapy. Cancer is a disease of genetic mutations, meaning a mutation in the DNA of a cell becomes abnormal, which leads to abnormal development of cancer cells.

Sometimes cancers have specific mutations that can be acted on by a medication that targets that mutation specifically. Many new medications for lung cancer are targeted therapies.

Summary

The side effects of lung cancer go beyond the physical effects of the disease. Emotional and financial burdens can result, and it can be difficult to navigate through the system. There are many resources that can be used to provide assistance with support groups, individual counseling, education, and financial assistance. 

A Word From Verywell 

Living with lung cancer brings enough worry and uncertainty. Unfortunately financial worries can accompany cancer care. Be as informed as possible with your insurance coverage, how it works, and how much you are responsible for. Fortunately, resources are available to help so you can proceed with your treatment plan.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What are some lung cancer organizations and nonprofits?

    Many organizations exist for people with lung cancer. Some of these organizations include:

    • LUNGevity
    • GO2 Foundation for Lung Cancer
    • American Lung Association
    • CancerCare


  • Does Medicare cover lung cancer treatment?

    Yes, Medicare does cover lung cancer treatment. Medicare Part A covers hospitalization,  cancer treatment received in the hospital, and home health care. Medicare Part B covers outpatient doctor’s visits, chemotherapy infusions, and radiation.

  • Can an oncologist recommend lung cancer support groups?

    Yes, an oncologist (a cancer specialist) or a member of their team (such as a social worker or nurse) can recommend a support group.

13 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  2. Department of Health and Human Services. Lung cancer screening: questions for the doctor.

  3. American Lung Association. Lung cancer screening resources.

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  5. American Cancer Society. Types of health insurance plans.

  6. American Lung Association. Supportive (palliative) care for lung cancer.

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  8. American Cancer Society. Keeping up with health insurance during cancer treatment.

  9. American Cancer Society. Medicare and medicaid.

  10. Health Resources & Services Administration. What is a health center?

  11. National Institutes of Health. New treatments spur sharp reduction in lung cancer mortality rate.

  12. The ASCO Post. Beyond immunotherapy: New targeted agents for advanced NSCLC.

  13. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Medicare coverage of cancer treatment services.