According to the U.S. Census Bureau nearly 51 Americans were uninsured in 2009. A diagnosis of mesothelioma can be all the more difficult when patients consider the cost of treatment and care. Fortunately, there are options available for patients without insurance. Health Care Reform includes the following options for uninsured Americans:
As of 2010 each state offers some type of pre-existing insurance program, also known as a PCIP as a means of covering those who have not had insurance for six months or more and have a pre-existing condition such as cancer. Some states will also begin to offer health insurance options for low-income residents, assisting in the cost of coverage.
Medicare is an option for those who are 65 or older and is made available through the Social Security Administration. Medicare is often an option for uninsured patients with mesothelioma due in part to the age at which most patients are diagnosed. Mesothelioma most often occurs in men who are over the age of 65 due to the cancer’s long latency periods. Medicare benefits are done on a case-by-case basis and not all individuals will qualify. Those who wish to obtain eligibility requirements should speak to a local representative of their state’s Social Security office.
Individuals within a low income bracket or unemployed who meet certain eligibility requirements may qualify for Medicaid, a government program offering state and local benefits. As with Medicare, eligibility varies, and those individuals 65 years or older can apply for both Medicare and Medicaid.
Hill-Burton Funds are provided by the federal government to certain hospitals and non-profit medical facilities as a means of providing low-cost and free medical services for those who cannot pay. Unfortunately, services eligible under Medicare and Medicaid programs are not able to receive Hill-Burton Funds, however, this program may cover costs for other services that the federal government does not offer assistance with. Eligibility for Hill-Burton Funds is currently based on family size and income.
Addressing financial concerns associated with cancer treatments and services can be difficult and uncomfortable. There are several agencies and people who are versed in various supplemental programs whose main goal is to assist patients with their medical costs. The various individuals and groups that can aid mesothelioma patients with their financial concerns are:
- Doctors and their support staff
- Social workers
- Case managers
- Patient and advocacy organizations
- The human resources department of the patient’s employer
- Private insurance company representatives