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money matters

Posts: 102
Joined: Apr 2004

Ok so I have a question for you all... How has cancer affected you financially? I aks because it has really put us in a bind. Hubby has only worked 7 hrs. since Feb. I work pt at 27 hrs/week. I do get child support for now,and have just barely been able to keep our heads above water. Hubby carries the health insur. on all of us ( 2 boys and us). They told us they'd carry us though June. Anyone on disability? Hubby thinks it will ruin our credit if we get assistance or disabilty. (right now our credit is excellent) anyone know? We also have no life insurance except supplimental thru my work. Too late to get him any... No mortage insurance. No aflac. I ask because I wonder what to do after our insurance is cancelled. I told him to forget about going back to work and go for disabilty. Won't he get Medicare then? Anyone on this? What is coverage like for cancer patients? What do you pay out of pocket. What about chemo or RX? I tr not to think about it, but it really worries me. Hubby has spent the last 6 yrs building our home and it's only 1/2 done with no funds to spare... no savings to speak of.
It probably sounds awful but it makes me cry everytime I read about people here going on trips/vacations. We haven't had a single vacation since we've been married (6 yrs), except 2 days in acabin 2 yrs ago 2 hrs from home. I really want to go a a cruise with my hubby. It's always been a dream of mine. He's never been more than a few hrs from home. I have been to th Carribean and I dream of takaing him there. I envy you all who can afford to take vacations, but I am also so happy for you. Wll, here I am feeling sorry for myself and hubby. Sorry to sound so blue. I just want him to see the place he's only dreamed about cause ya just never know... Well, any advice would be greatly appreciated. HUgss to all :)
Sally Jo

Posts: 46
Joined: Mar 2004

Hi Sally Jo
You've brought up a lot of things I've been so close to freaking out about. I don't have answers for you, but I'll be watching to see what kind of answers you do get from others. So far, this hasn't wiped us out. His insurance has picked up so many $$$$, and I'm terrified of what is to come. This latest surgery, for instance, has me dreading the walk to the mailbox........I don't know answers, I only know that I can only deal with the here-and-now and somehow I'll/we'll make it work out. I know your fears. I feel them each and every day. I do try to remind myself that somehow, someway, things really DO have a way of working out! Luckily, I haven't had to panic, at least not yet....I hope you won't have to either! Hang in there.

kangatoo's picture
Posts: 2115
Joined: Feb 2004

Hullo Sally Jo--the health systems vary in each country and we are very sad to see how it affects you guys over there.Cold comfort I guess but even here in oz the health system sucks.Having said that we are in a better position as our medicare system does pay for a lot of the treatments.Nonetheless secialist treatments although subsidised do cost all the same.I have to pay $100 + towards each visit which can mount up over 12 months and some meds. are expensive--I guess not as bad as in the states tho.The private health system here is really designed for the wealthy so most people are on medicare--they pay for that thru a tax levy.
It is a real shame that many countries don't seem to get their priorities right.Medical care should be affordable for everyone!
We hope you can cope with all you have to go thru and send our luv and support.
kanga n Jen

Posts: 120
Joined: Apr 2004

You can call social security to find out if you qualify for disablility. Also your hospital can help. They have social workers at every hospital to help you with the finacial stress of this. I tried to email you back again and it says that your email can not be found.
I was scared when my husband first had his colon surgery. He is self employed with no disability insurance. I would start with the SS workers at your hospital and call social security.

Posts: 31
Joined: Feb 2004


I agree with Carmen. Call your local Social Security office and find out if he qualifies for disability. Your local Social & Rehabilitation Service (or whatever it's called in your state) might be able to provide you some assistance as well. You might also contact the American Cancer Society and see if they have any resources for you to contact, or any other suggestions.

You try to hang in there--I know it's not easy, but remember, we're all here for you.


nanuk's picture
Posts: 1362
Joined: Dec 2003

You do need counseling-probably from an oncology Social Worker & SSA; this is such a shameful, sad and recurrent story in this country. Over 40 % of the people in the US do not have health insurance, and medical costs have escalated to the extent that employers either cannot or won't provide coverage.
Look to where the $ and priorities are going, and the policies of the AMA and the big drug companies, and learn which candidates are bought and paid for, and which candidates support your interests, and VOTE accordingly. We need a war on
cancer and many other life-threatening diseases, not a preservation of oil and other interests. Bud

Tessyann's picture
Posts: 56
Joined: Apr 2004

Hi Sally Bens on social..Now when Ben applied they approved him right away. I think cancer is consider one of there approved illnesses. Its been ruff on Ben and me tho he never retired till his 3rd bout when chemo was just too ruff on him.
Another plus is he would get medicare... It didnt kick in till 2 year after his approval tho but sure did help when our HMO wouldnt pay for us to go up to Sloans.

Posts: 232
Joined: Apr 2003

Isn't it sad when worries about keeping your head above water is added to the stress of dealing with such an illness.

Here are some random thoughts which come to mind.

I agree with others. Social workers at oncology centers deal with these situations frequently. They can discuss medical needs with your oncologist and are excellent people with whom to discuss your situation and needs, suspected future needs and wishes/dreams. They may be able to suggest ways around the insurance problems, and may have suggestions for how to stabilize your financal situation, or be able to recommend someone who can make suggestions without cost. American Cancer society also puts out a few booklets about the financial aspects of cancer, which I got from my hospital's oncology center. They may also be able to suggest support groups for you and your children, as well support services to give you some peace of mind and respite, such as providing a backup for transportation to and from treatments if you are unable to go.

Some states have catastrophic health care coverage offered through the state for people who cannot obtain coverage elsewhere. Social workers should know if this is a possibility for you.

Applying for social security benefits will not affect your credit. I can't recall exactly what your husband's exact status is. You probably have heard ads on TV from lawyers who say how hard it is to get SS diability awards. With stage 4 disease, I got an award within a month or so of completing the forms. Coverage started not from the time of the award, but at 6 mth from the date the disability started. The social security office was very nice. They interviewed me over the phone. That took the longest to set up- several weeks. SS will also provide benefits for children of a covered disabled if the children are under 18. There is a supplemental SS income available for people who have limited income and savings. After the award of benefits, SS will continue coverage during a "trial work" where people are eligible for 9 mths continued benefits while the person works earning over approximately $560/mth. After that they discontinue benefits if the person is able to continue to work or continue them if not. He would be eligible for medicare after 24 mths on disability. SS disability payments kick in after 6 mths of disability, but it is worth applying before this so that the paperwork can be in.

The booklet that I got from SS also mentioned that food stamps are available in certain situations. I do not know the details about that. The combination of low savings and income may make you eligible.

Much of the information is on their web site. I think the address is www.ssa.gov

I have been fortunate in my situation. I worked for a large company. This meant that they provide COBRA health insurance coverage. Being entitled to COBRA coverage means that my health insurance could not be discontinued (unless they discontinue everyone's) as long as I pay the full group rate premium.. In my case, it is about $300/mth. This is expensive, and I have a $2500 deductible to pay as well, but it has covered all my doctors treatments without question. This lasts for 18 mths if you leave your job, but it can be extended to 29 mths if SS declares that disability occured within 60 days of leaving or reducing work hours below that necessary for medical benefits. The insurance company can charge 50% more for the coverage during that additional 10 mth coverage period (and I am certain they will!) I also have to pay up to $30 copay for prescriptions.

My insurance will continue through Nov of next year if I do the payments. I am scared about the prospects of being on Medicare, but I hope that it is an issue, because that will mean that I am still hanging in there. I am certain others here will have more information about the extent of coverage. I'd be interested to hear about that also. It sounds like the situation with reimbursement for chemotherapy and medicines is changing so much I don't know what the situation will be like in another 2 yrs.

One other thing, I do not know where you live and whether your husband's oncologist thinks that there may be any benefit from participating in a clinical trial. I have heard that people treated with clinical trials at NCI have all trial related medical expenses paid. I have heard that clinical trials at other sites tend to cover a part of expenses, but often not everything. Still it may be worth checking into, as trials may offer an advancement in treatment as well as financial assistance.

I offer my prayers for better times for you, your husband and family.

Take care,


2bhealed's picture
Posts: 2085
Joined: Dec 2001

Hi Sally,

Cancer has devastated us financially. And we had wonderful fabulous insurance!! But you see, I chose not to do any chemo so the insurance stopped there. Sure they covered every trip to Mayo (I pay a $10 co-pay! Thank you Lord!) but not once cent was covered for my treatments. And the stupid thing is that my treatments were incredibly less expensive than chemo or radiation. Go figure! Until insurance companies get smart and realize that alternative treatments work and are cost effective folks like me will be paying 100% out of pocket. I have never been hospitalized due to my treatments or side effects, I do not need anti-nausea meds, nor do I get dehydrated, I am not disabled because of this, my blood counts never go dangerously low, I am not in the lab every week, I am not in the doctor's office every week. Oh well.

So....we have sold our Farm and my husband got a new job and we are downsizing and unloading some debt. But it is working out for the better....better job for hubby, less stressful life for me (I hope), not as good insurance coverage but hopefully adequate, and a chance at a fresh start.

There is also WIC you can look into. They don't care what your income is if you have kids a certain age you qualify. None of that messes with any credit.

Bottom line: cancer cost me approximately $30,000 of debt to be added to our already stretched thin finances. But it forced us to change what we were doing and for that I am thankful. There is a silver lining for us. :-)

peace, emily who is excited for her next adventure into the North Woods!

2bhealed's picture
Posts: 2085
Joined: Dec 2001


The only reason that I get to go on a vacation this year (first one in 5 1/2 years) is because my mom and dad are paying for it!! Otherwise it would be a friend's cabin for a long weekend 2 hours away.

Posts: 102
Joined: Apr 2004

Thank you all for replying to my post! Sorry for not replying sooner, but its eben hectic this week. I spoke with hubby about all this and on Fri. during chemo we finally made the call to Social Security. We go june 4th for the interview. I know he will qualify... stage 4 cancer and Rhuematoid arthritis (that is going untreated) - are both one of those diseases on the list for automatic disabilty. I am just glad he finally agrees with me that this is something we need to do to help keep the bills paid. I am hoping we'll be able to continue our insurance also. Hopefully the boss will let us keep it past june if we can help pay the premiums. SS. told us hubby would not have to quit his current job, and the boss never mentioned droppping hubbys insur., just the rest of the family.... so I am crossing my fingers on that one. If nothing else i want hubby to have his same insurance and I'll look elsewhere for the rest of us. Our state has a program called CHIP for kids health insur. for low income or working families who cant get coverage so that'll take care of the boys... then maybe I can pay hubbys boss to keep mine or get a medical assistance card or something... I'm sure God will take care of us one way or another... Again, thanks so much for sharing with me. It really means a lot to us.

Sally Jo

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