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Financial Help for Cancer Patients: Where to Find Help For Cancer Care


Updated April 22, 2014

  • Medicaid (Medical Assistance), a jointly funded, Federal-State health insurance program for people who need financial assistance for medical expenses, is coordinated by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), formerly the Health Care Financing Administration. At a minimum, states must provide home care services to people who receive Federal income assistance such as Social Security Income and Aid to Families with Dependent Children. Medicaid coverage includes part-time nursing, home care aide services, and medical supplies and equipment. Information about coverage is available from local state welfare offices, state health departments, state social services agencies, or the state Medicaid office. Check the local telephone directory for the number to call. Information about specific state contacts is also available on the Web site listed below. Spanish-speaking staff are available in some offices.

    Web site: http://www.cms.gov/medicaid/consumer.asp

  • Medicare is a Federal health insurance program also administered by the CMS. Eligible individuals include those who are 65 or older, people of any age with permanent kidney failure, and disabled people under age 65. Medicare may offer reimbursement for some home care services. Cancer patients who qualify for Medicare may also be eligible for coverage of hospice services if they are accepted into a Medicare-certified hospice program. To receive information on eligibility, explanations of coverage, and related publications, call Medicare at the number listed below or visit their Web site. Some publications are available in Spanish. Spanish-speaking staff are available.

    Telephone: 1–800–633–4227 (1–800–MEDICARE)
    TTY: 1–877–486–2048
    Web site: http://www.medicare.gov

  • The Patient Advocate Foundation (PAF) provides education, legal counseling, and referrals to cancer patients and survivors concerning managed care, insurance, financial issues, job discrimination, and debt crisis matters. The Patient Assistance Program is a subsidiary of the PAF. It provides financial assistance to patients who meet certain qualifications. The toll-free number is 1-866-512-3861.

    Telephone: 1–800–532–5274
    Web site: http://www.patientadvocate.org
  • Patient Assistance Programs are offered by some pharmaceutical manufacturers to help pay for medications. To learn whether a specific drug might be available at reduced cost through such a program, talk with a physician or a medical social worker.

  • The Social Security Administration (SSA) is the Government agency that oversees Social Security and Supplemental Security Income. A description of each of these programs follows. More information about these and other SSA programs is available by calling the toll-free number listed below. Spanish-speaking staff are available.

    Telephone: 1–800–772–1213
    TTY: 1–800–325–0778

    Social Security provides a monthly income for eligible elderly and disabled individuals. Information on eligibility, coverage, and how to apply for benefits is available from the Social Security Administration.

    Web site: http://www.ssa.gov/SSA_Home.html

  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI) supplements Social Security payments for individuals who have certain income and resource levels. SSI is administered by the Social Security Administration. Information on eligibility, coverage, and how to file a claim is available from the Social Security Administration.

    Web site: http://www.ssa.gov/notices/supplemental-security-income

  • The State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) is a Federal-State partnership that offers low-cost or free health insurance coverage to uninsured children of low-wage, working parents. Callers will be referred to the SCHIP program in their state for further information about what the program covers, who is eligible, and the minimum qualifications.

    Telephone: 1-877-543-7669 (1-877-KIDS-NOW)
    Web site: http://www.insurekidsnow.gov

  • Transportation: There are nonprofit organizations that arrange free or reduced cost air transportation for cancer patients going to or from cancer treatment centers. Financial need is not always a requirement. To find out about these programs, talk with a medical social worker. Ground transportation services may be offered or mileage reimbursed through the local ACS or your state or local Department of Social Services.

  • Veterans Benefits: Eligible veterans and their dependents may receive cancer treatment at a Veterans Administration Medical Center. Treatment for service-connected conditions is provided, and treatment for other conditions may be available based on the veteran's financial need. Some publications are available in Spanish. Spanish-speaking staff are available in some offices.

    Telephone: 1-877-222-8387 (1-877-222-VETS)
    Web site: http://www1.va.gov/Health_Benefits/

    Source: National Cancer Insitiute
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