For most people, the holiday season is a time for giving and family, but for others the holiday season can be a time of stress and worry. Many people think of the physical and emotional toll that cancer takes on patients and their families, but they can often forget about the financial burden. Cancer treatment is expensive. The average cost for treatment runs up into the $150,000 per year range. Many people do not have the money to pay that outright and end up facing climbing medical debt.
Over 41% of Americans have accumulated some medical debt in their lifetime. Finding any sort of holiday cheer can be difficult for people who have that hanging over their heads. We understand how difficult it can be to navigate the financial costs of cancer. There are a few options and resources available that can help ease the anxiety of rising medical costs this holiday season.
3 Ways to Reign in Medical Debt
1. Look for Financial Assistance
Depending on your current financial status, you may be eligible to apply for financial assistance. In addition to information from social workers and other health care providers, there are several national and local service organizations that help people with cancer who are facing financial challenges. You may also qualify for government-funded assistance, so do not hesitate to reach out to a social worker if you believe you might qualify. Most hospitals and larger providers have staff ready to handle such questions. Additionally, crowdfunding through platforms such as YouCaring may also be able to help.
2. Set Up a Payment Plan
If you are unable to pay your medical bill entirely, look into setting up a payment plan with the medical provider. Depending on the amount, you may be able to set up a payment plan, reduce the price that you have to pay, or you may be able to negotiate with your provider to only pay a certain percentage of the bill. Contacting the hospital billing department and negotiating can reduce your bills by up to 90%. Reductions will be dependant on personal income and level of insurance. Make sure to check with your provider’s billing department to see what options are open to you.
3. Medical Credit Cards
Some medical providers offer medical credit cards that patients can use, but make sure to look at other options before doing so. A medical credit card differs from a normal credit card in that they offer “no interest” promotional periods for up to 12-18 months. While this time might be enough to pay off your debt, be sure that you can pay the full amount before using a medical credit card. Often, “no interest” translates into deferred interest, meaning that interest begins adding up from the moment you make a purchase, but you do not have to pay it if you pay off the debt in the payment period.
Don’t Let Stress & Anxiety Ruin Your Holiday Season
Whatever you decide to do, make sure to do it sooner rather than later. The longer you put off handling the issue, the more you let stress and anxiety build. This holiday season, if you need help navigating the costs of cancer care or you have questions about the cancer journey, make sure to check out our THANC Guide and consider donating to the THANC Foundation to help us sustain the guide to help cancer patients and their families along the cancer journey.