Finding the Money to Fight Cancer
BREAST CANCER ONLYSusan G. Komen for the Cure
Provides referrals to local resources that provide funding, as well as nationwide assistance programs, based on patients' eligibility.
Offers the country's only 24-hour hotline staffed by trained breast cancer survivors, with interpreters in 150 languages. Refers callers to local groups that provide funding.
BREAST CANCER AND OTHER ILLNESSESCancerCare
Trained social workers provide free in-person, online, and phone counseling and support services for all types of cancer and for anyone dealing with a cancer diagnosis, not only patients themselves. Limited financial grants available to qualifying patients for prostheses, oral medication, medical equipment, transportation, and even babysitters.
Will help defray expenses for prescription therapies; income criteria for eligibility can vary, but a family of four making up to four times the poverty level annually may qualify. Covers many serious illnesses, including several types of cancer, multiple sclerosis, macular degeneration, and rheumatoid arthritis.
Acts as a liaison among patients, their physicians, and insurance companies to ensure access to care and to help maintain patients' financial stability. Under the Copay Relief Program, provides direct copay assistance for pharmaceutical products, including drugs and chemotherapy. The "National Financial Resources Guide" lists by state the local agencies that can offer financial help; download it free from the PAF Web site or call for a free hard copy.
Federal Programs Breast and Cervical Cancer Prevention and Treatment Act
Centers for Disease Control
Control and Prevention, Division of Cancer
Guarantees breast cancer and cervical cancer screening for low-income women (income ceilings vary by state but generally cap at 250 percent of the federal poverty level -- that means $25,525 for a single woman this year; $51,625 for a family of four). Women diagnosed through this program can qualify for free treatment. Web site lists contacts for all states.
To qualify, a woman must be considered permanently disabled, which means she cannot work because she has a medical condition expected to last a year or more, or to result in death. She can earn up to $900 a month and still be eligible. There is a five-month waiting period from the time disability is diagnosed; regular Social Security disability checks start on the sixth month. Two years after someone starts receiving disability checks, she automatically also gets Medicare coverage for hospital and outpatient care.
Drug Company-Funded Programs
BREAST CANCER ONLYGlaxoSmithKline Tykerb(r) CARES
Patients or physicians can call for assistance in obtaining Tykerb and answers to Tykerb-related questions. Reimbursement counselors help breast cancer patients understand their insurance coverage and assist in identifying alternative financial support.
BREAST CANCER AND OTHER ILLNESSESPfizer FirstRESOURCE
Provides uninsured patients with various Pfizer medicines for free or at a savings, including breast cancer and other oncology drugs, if patients fit certain household income qualifications. Assistance in locating other funding sources is also available for the uninsured. Counselors help insured patients navigate the insurance reimbursement process. FirstRESOURCE falls under the umbrella of the Pfizer Helpful Answers program, which provides free or discounted medicines for patients with various illnesses.
This Web site lists a free directory of companies that provide prescription medications for a variety of illnesses, at little or no cost depending on financial need.
Genentech, maker of the breast cancer drugs Herceptin and Avastin, set up SPOC as a reimbursement resource for its products. Eligible patients can receive free medicine, referrals for copay assistance, and other reimbursement support. Some programs are open to patients who have health insurance, others only to those without.
A grassroots organization that works to increase federal funding for breast cancer and improve access to clinical trials for women. Its informational booklet, "Guide to Quality Breast Cancer Care," can be downloaded from the Web site.
A patient assistance program that provides GSK prescription medicines (including Tykerb) to low-income cancer patients. To be eligible, patients must have no health insurance, and income for a family of four must be less than $100,000 a year.
Click on the Web link to reach the group, or call the phone number for more information.
Originally published on LHJ.com, October 2007.