The cost of medical treatment is among the many concerns you may have if you, a friend, or family member has been diagnosed with cancer. Because bills and debt can add up quickly, people may want to seek financial help soon after being diagnosed with cancer. Oncology social workers, case managers, doctors, and oncology nurses can help or provide referrals to support services and financial resources. Although coping with daily financial responsibilities may sometimes seem overwhelming, it is important not to let bills pile up and go unpaid. Learn more about organizing your finances.
Finding financial support resources
In addition to information from social workers and other health care providers, there are a number of national and local service organizations that help people with cancer who are facing financial challenges. Contact these organizations directly to learn more about their specific programs and services, including eligibility criteria.
National service organizations
The Cancer Financial Assistance Coalition (CFAC) is a group of national organizations that provide financial help to patients. CFAC provides a searchable database of financial resources.
CancerCare's financial assistance programs (800-813-4673) provide limited financial assistance for people affected by cancer.
The HealthWellFoundation (800-675-8416) is an independent, non-profit organization that helps insured patients with a chronic, life-altering disease afford their medications.
The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's patient financial aid program (800-955-4572) provides limited financial assistance to patients diagnosed with a blood cancer (such as leukemia, lymphoma, or multiple myeloma) with significant financial need to help defray treatment-related expenses.
The National Foundation for Transplants (800-489-3863) provides fundraising assistance for patients needing transplants, including bone marrow and stem cell transplants.
Local service organizations
Local service or volunteer organizations such as Catholic Charities, Jewish Social Services, the Lions Club, Lutheran Social Services, the Salvation Army, and others may offer financial assistance. Some of these organizations offer grants to help cover the cost of treatment and other expenses, while others provide assistance with specific services or products, such as travel or medications. A social worker or an Internet search can provide you with a list of organizations. Many hospitals and clinics also maintain a list of service organizations in the community.
General assistance programs providing food, housing, and other services may also be available from your county or city Department of Social Services (check the local telephone directory or online for contact information).
For direct financial assistance, people can contact their city's Department of Social Services.
Community-based groups, such as local churches, synagogues, mosques, and lodges may also provide assistance for people with cancer, sometimes even if the person is not a member of that particular organization or religion. Some hospitals also have private funds available for patients in need.
Often, cancer advocacy and patient information groups have resources for patients. Get a list of patient information resources to connect to cancer organizations nationwide.
Travel and housing assistance
Air Care Alliance (888-260-9707) offers a central listing of free transportation services provided by volunteer pilots and charitable aviation groups.
Air Charity Network (877-621-7177) coordinates free air transportation for people in need through various organizations around the United States.
Air Compassion for Veterans (888-662-6794) provides wounded warriors, veterans, and their family members with medical air transportation through commercial airline tickets, air ambulance services, and other programs.
Angel Airline Samaritans (800-296-1217) facilitates no-cost or reduced rate commercial airline tickets to and from distant specialized medical evaluations or treatments for people with cancer in need and their families.
The Corporate Angel Network (866-328-1313) arranges free air transportation for people with cancer traveling to treatment using empty seats on corporate jets.
The Healthcare Hospitality Network (800-542-9730) is an association of more than 200 nonprofit organizations that provide lodging and support services to families and their loved ones who are receiving medical treatment away from home.
The American Cancer Society’s Hope Lodge (800-227-2345) gives cancer patients and their caregivers a free place to stay while receiving treatment in another city. Currently, there are 31 Hope Lodge locations throughout the United States.
Joe's House (877-563-7468) is a nonprofit organization providing a nation-wide online service that helps cancer patients and their families find lodging near treatment centers.
LifeLine Pilots (800-822-7972) are volunteer pilots who donate their time and all flight expenses to people in need of free transportation for on-going treatment, diagnosis, and follow-up care.
National Patient Travel Center (800-296-1217) provides information about long-distance travel for people with cancer and their families in need of travel.
PALS (Patient AirLift Services) (888-818-1231) has a network of volunteer pilots who provides people with chronic illnesses air transport services at no cost.
Ronald McDonald House Charities (630-623-7048) offer free or reduced-cost lodging for families of seriously ill children who are receiving treatment at nearby hospitals.
Medication and treatment cost assistance
Medication assistance programs grid for patients (PDF), which is compiled, updated, and generously provided by Wendalyn Andrews, Practice Manager, Division of Hematology/Oncology, The University of Arizona Cancer Center, Tucson, Arizona. (Last updated: June 2013)
Chronic Disease Fund (877-968-7233) helps underinsured patients with a chronic disease obtain medication.
NeedyMeds.com (800-503-6897) is an information source on companies that offer patient assistance programs. These programs help those who cannot afford medications to obtain them at no or low cost through the manufacturer.
Partnership for Prescription Assistance (888-477-2669) helps qualifying patients who lack prescription drug coverage obtain the medications they need.
The Patient Access Network Foundation (866-316-7263) assists patients with out-of-pocket costs associated with their treatment.
Patient Services, Inc. (800-366-7741) provides assistance with insurance premiums and co-payments for people with chronic diseases.
RxHope.com (877-267-0517) helps patients obtain free or low-cost prescription medications.
General financial information
The American Childhood Cancer Organization maintains a list of organizations offering financial assistance.
The Assist Fund (855-845-3663) provides financial support to chronically ill patients with high-cost medications.
The Patient Advocate Foundation (800-532-5274) provides education, legal counseling, and referrals for people with cancer who need assistance managing insurance, financial, debt crisis, and job discrimination issues.
Cancer Family Relief Fund is a charitable organization that encourages and facilitates grants to children whose parent or guardian is struggling with a diagnosis of cancer. These grants support the children's extracurricular activities so that they may feel some sense of normalcy as their parent focuses on treatment and recovery.
Financial Health Matters, a booklet available from the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, offers information and tips on money management, health insurance, and financial resources.
The LIVESTRONG Foundation offers a section for survivors on planning your financial future.
The National Cancer Institute offers links to support and resources, including information about cancer support organizations, finances, insurance, and hospice and home care.