AT LEAST 15% TO 20% OF PATIENTS WITH INSURANCE OR UNDERINSURANCE WILL NEED FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE.
Living with a rare disease, such as cancer, can take a physical and an emotional toll on patients, their family, and friends. Although patients may have insurance coverage for the drug they need, often the insurance doesn’t cover all the costs, and the patient may need help with expensive health insurance premium and copayment costs, transportation to the site of service, nursing help, and other services. Patient Services, Inc. (PSI) is one organization dedicated to providing financial support and can often help fill these cost gaps.
Cancer Diagnosis Often Means Income Loss
A new study published in October in the journal Cancer found that after a cancer diagnosis, many patients in the United States lost about 200 work hours in the first year of diagnosis, which translated to loss of income.
The study compared the income of 17,000 adults, including 1,000 patients with cancer, between 1999 and 2009. It showed that adults with cancer miss on average 5 weeks of work in the first year of diagnosis, and their family income declined by 20%.
Anna Zajacova, PhD, Associate Professor of Sociology, University of Wyoming, and study author, said in an interview with Reuters Health, “We were looking at the average impact of cancer,” but it is likely that patients with advanced lung cancer would have a more devastating financial impact than those diagnosed with early breast cancer.
Employed people who are diagnosed with cancer should contact their human resources department to help them navigate the sick leave options and shortterm disability.
HELP WITH COPAYMENT FOR TREATMENT
Based on our data we have gathered over the past 26 years, we found that within any given patient population diagnosed with a rare or life-altering disease, such as cancer, at least 15% to 20% of patients with insurance or underinsurance will need financial assistance. And premium costs typically increase between 10% and 12% each year.
In 2015, PSI spent more than $28 million on copayment assistance for more than 5,000 patients with chronic myelogenous leukemia (or CML).
Although under the new healthcare reform (the ACA), patients with cancer have many more health coverage options to choose from, there remain many challenges about patient affordability of treatment, especially for patients with cancer or other rare diseases, where treatment is often very expensive and more than most people can pay for without insurance coverage.
PSI may be able to subsidize the high costs of your copayment. We currently offer financial support for patients with the following types of cancer or therapies:
- Breakthrough cancer pain and opioid-tolerant therapies
- Breast cancer screening
- Gastrointestinal stromal tumors
- Malignant ascites
- Metastatic melanoma
- Metastatic renal-cell carcinoma
To view our full list of supported illnesses and services offered, please visit us online at www.patientservicesinc.org.
PSI believes that our donors are doing their best to meet their corporate obligations, while striving to remain altruistic in their giving to help us help the patients we serve. In 2015, many of those who provide support for the patients we serve have seen the increased financial need of patients and have stepped up the level of their donations. The average level of corporate donations increased by 10% to 15% this year compared with last year.
To be determined eligible for financial support from PSI, you must:
- Submit an application for assistance online
- Provide proof of active health insurance
- Be able to provide proof of household income
Once an application and supporting documentation have been submitted, PSI will review the application and can determine approval for support within 24 hours or less.
As we reach the end of 2015, we would like to remind the oncology community that the Open Enrollment Period for the Health Insurance Marketplace has reopened for 2016 on November 1, 2015, and will close on January 31, 2016.
PSI encourages you to review your plan options now if you are considering a change in coverage. Remember that obtaining a strong health insurance policy helps patients to adhere to treatment, maintain hope, and enhance their health.
In addition to providing financial support, PSI encourages you, the patient, and your family to advocate for your best interests. Share your story, your challenges, and successes, and know that you are not alone. PSI will continue to advocate legislatively for patient needs and for fairness in the costs for medical care and treatments. We don’t give up.
With every step we take in the halls of Congress or State Houses, with every visit we make to a legislator’s office, we bring your stories and needs to the forefront of policymakers, advocating for hope, fairness, and affordability for patients with cancer and with other rare diseases.