Numbers don’t lie and we all know the cost of healthcare seem to keep rising. Comprehending a cancer diagnosis is tough, which often forces thoughts of “What will this treatment cost?” to the back burner. Often the reality of cost doesn’t sink in until patients are undergoing treatment, sending them into a tailspin that leaves them thinking less about their recovery than about how they’re going to pay for everything. But I am here to tell you that it is okay to ask for help and a great first step is to reach out to your healthcare team.
Speaking with your healthcare team can lead you to new sources of assistance that you probably did not know were available. Your providers may know of local resources, such as co-pay assistance programs for those high-cost medications and financial help from local charities. Sometimes your hospital can work with you on a payment plan that is suited to your income. Studies show the stress of healthcare costs can affect your health. People paying out-of-pocket for medicines are less likely to take it as recommended, than people who get assistance. And overall, more financial distress has been linked to people reporting a lower quality of life.
I believe that more people should have financial conversations with someone on their healthcare team. Many feel embarrassed bringing a financial concern to their doctor, or they believe their doctor isn’t the person to approach. But with more research showing the ways stress and finances affect health financial distress, it’s definitely something your doctor should know.