The cost of medical treatment is among the many concerns you may have if you, a friend, or family member is diagnosed with cancer. Because bills and debt can add up quickly, people may want to seek financial help soon after being diagnosed with cancer. Some of the people who can help or provide referrals to services that can help include oncology social workers, case managers, and your doctor or oncology nurse. Although coping with daily financial responsibilities can sometimes seem overwhelming, it is important not to let bills pile up and go unpaid. Learn more about managing the cost of cancer care.
Finding financial support resources
In addition to information from the social workers and other health care providers, here is a list of resources to begin finding financial support.
National service organizations
The Cancer Financial Assistance Coalition (CFAC) is a group of national organizations that provide financial help to patients. CFAC educates patients and providers about existing resources through a searchable database of financial resources.
CancerCare's financial assistance programs (800-813-4673) provide limited grants for people with certain types of cancer.
The HealthWell Foundation® is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization established in 2003 that is committed to addressing the needs of individuals with insurance who cannot afford their copayments, coinsurance, and premiums for important medical treatments.
The National Foundation for Transplants (800-489-3863) provides fundraising assistance for patients needing transplants, including bone marrow and stem cell transplants.
The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's patient financial aid program (800-955-4572) provides limited financial assistance to patients with significant need to help defray treatment-related expenses.
Local service organizations
Local service or voluntary 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 the local telephone directory should have 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 the county or city Department of Social Services (check the local telephone directory 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.
Angel Flight Samaritans (800-296-1217) provides long-distance travel for people with cancer and their families in need of travel.
The Corporate Angel Network (866-328-1313) arranges free air transportation for people with cancer traveling to treatment using empty seats on corporate jets.
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.
The National Patient Travel Helpline (800-296-1217) provides information about charitable, long-distance medical air transportation and provides referrals to appropriate sources.
The National Association of Hospital Hospitality Houses (800-542-9730) is an association of more than 150 nonprofit organizations that provide lodging and support services to families and their loved ones who are receiving medical treatment away from home.
PALS (Patient AirLift Services) (888-818-1231) has a network of volunteer pilots who provides people with chronic illnesses airtransport 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 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 (732-507-7400) helps patients obtain free or low-cost prescription medications.
General financial information
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.
The National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship has an online guide on financial issues for people with cancer.
The Candlelighters Childhood Cancer Foundation maintains a list of additional organizations offering assistance for treatment-related travel.