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Cancer without health insurance?

beccabtown's picture
Posts: 234
Joined: May 2016

I am self-employed, and all day I have been so upset about the possibility of losing my health insurance next year (due to repeal of the ACA) that I can't think straight about my treatment. I'm supposed to be preparing myself to restart chemo tomorrow, but can't focus on that.

Has anyone on this board dealt with having cancer and having no health insurance or very bad insurance? What did you do? What kinds of resources did you find to help you, if any?

I know that no one knows what will happen in any given state regarding catastrophic coverage, and no one knows what insurance companies and hospitals will do. This is not about politics per se. I would just like to hear the stories of anyone who has been in this situation.

Lou Ann M's picture
Lou Ann M
Posts: 996
Joined: Feb 2015

A lot of hospitals have financial assistance programs that can reduce the amount that  you owe by a lot.   A phone call can tell,you how,to apply.

Hugs and prayers, Lou Ann

EZLiving66's picture
Posts: 1428
Joined: Oct 2015

We also get our insurance off the exchange.  The new president won't be inaugurated until January 20th, 2017 and your new plan will start January 1st (you have until December 15th, 2016 to sign up for January 1st).  It will take at least until next year 1-1-18 before any changes or repeal can be done so please don't let this possibility effect your health, Rebecca!!!  



beccabtown's picture
Posts: 234
Joined: May 2016

Thank you, Eldri. The scary thing is that I can already see how it could affect my health--wears me out just to think about dealing with it all.

I still have COBRA coverage from my last job. I could have that through March, but I think it will be better to get an exchange plan that starts January 1 so that I have coverage in place if they repeal the ACA in January. I'm hoping it won't be that easy to repeal when it comes down to it, especially since no one knows what will happen next. But we can't count on anything.

Posts: 800
Joined: May 2016


Here is a site with some resourses that kim sent to me when i thought i might lose my insurance.  I also called american cancer society and asked to talk to someone about health insurance and the took my name and number and had some one call me back the next day.  The guy was really nice and answered every question i had.  He spent a good 30 minutes or so with me.  He did tell me one piece of info that was wrong but oer all i was pleased with what he was ablen to help me with.  You might want to try that.

Im sorry you have to worry about this now while going through treatments.

beccabtown's picture
Posts: 234
Joined: May 2016

Thanks for all the suggestions. I still hope it will not come to that for me. It's just like waiting to see what will happen next with the cancer. There's not much you can do except make the most of the present moment.

Editgrl's picture
Posts: 903
Joined: Jun 2015

And also get my insurance through my state exchange.  I agree with Eldri that it will take some time to repeal that act if indeed that is what happens.  I am fortunate in that I will turn 65 at the end of next year and will be eligible for Medi-Care, though who knows what will happen to that in the future.

I would certainly look at the exchange, just to see what's available.  At least where I am in California, there are still quite a few economical choices.


beccabtown's picture
Posts: 234
Joined: May 2016

Thanks, Chris. I would be happy to be on the ACA exchange (there's no state exchange in my deep red state). I hope you're right that repeal won't happen as quickly as some are saying.

Posts: 124
Joined: Sep 2016

Hang in there!  I am not self employed but that is one of the things I worried about while on disability from my job.  We had a girl give her 2 week notice so my boss is asking when I may be able to come back.  I told her I will ask my dr on Monday to maybe come back part time but one of my closest friends who I work with said to come back when I feel ready, not before.  I was worried about if I stay on disability will my insurance be affected and my HR lady said it will absolutely not be affected at all, benefits stay the same.  I am blessed not to have to be concerned about that and focus on my chemo treatments.  It will all work out Becca so stay strong and focus on your chemo as best you can!  Sending you prayers and hugs!!  Maryanne

Kvdyson's picture
Posts: 789
Joined: Jan 2016

Here are more financial assistance links that have been posted in the various support groups that I follow. I can't vouch for any of them but hopefully they can be helpful to you:

1) Benefits Checkup finds programs for people ages 55 and over that may pay for some of their costs of prescription drugs, health care, utilities, and other services. www.benefitscheckup.org

2) The Chronic Disease Fund is one of the few charitable organizations to provide direct and immediate financial assistance to underinsured patients with chronic disease, cancers or life-altering conditions who cannot afford the co-payments for the expensive medications they need. Please call 1-877-968-7233 for more details. www.cdfund.org/

3) Free Medicine Program helps patients obtain prescription drugs and medications free of charge. www.freemedicineprogram.org/index.html

4) HealthWell Foundation is an independent, charitable organization that assists financially needy individuals in obtaining prescription medications. The Foundation provides financial assistance to eligible individuals to pay insurance premiums or copayments. www.healthwellfoundation.org

5) Managed Rx Plans Inc. is a private pharmacy that accepts most insurance including prescription drug programs as full payment towards prescriptions. Patient must have insurance with a 70% or better co-pay. Shipping is free. Call 1-800-799-8765 for more details.

6) National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD) has administered programs to assist uninsured or under-insured individuals in securing life-saving or life-sustaining medications.Call 1-800-999-6673 for more details. www.rarediseases.org

7) NeedyMeds provides information on the programs many drug companies have that give away free prescription medications to people who have no insurance and qualify for their programs. Allows you to access the information on the drug by searching by drug or by manufacturer. www.needymeds.com

8) Partnership for Prescription Assistance helps qualifying patients who lack prescription coverage get the medicines they need through the public or private program that’s right for them. www.pparx.org

9) Patient Services Incorporated is committed to assisting persons with chronic medical illnesses in accessing health insurance and pharmacy co-payment assistance. www.uneedpsi.org/

10) Patient Access Network Foundation is dedicated to assisting patients who cannot afford the out-of-pocket costs associated with their treatment needs. With 20 disease-specific funds, PAN assists the underinsured in accessing health care treatments. Call 1-800-316-7263 for more details. www.patientaccessnetwork.org

11) Patient Advocate Foundation (PAF) is pleased to announce the expansion of co-payment assistance funding for patients with sarcomas. Additional information about the PAF Co-Pay Relief Program can be obtained by calling 866-512-3861 or visiting: www.copays.org or www.patientadvocate.org

beccabtown's picture
Posts: 234
Joined: May 2016

Kim, Thank you for putting together that excellent list. Is there a place to save it on the board for future reference? There is a "Life Hacks for Living with Cancer" thread. I don't know if there are other general info threads where it might be found and accessed.

Everyone, thanks for all the responses. I've been feeling more hopeful for the last day or so.

Round 4 of chemo went well today! No side effects at all except for some wooziness from Benadryl. Since it had been three months since my last chemo treatment, I was concerned about how it might go. I changed my appt. to a different day of the week in order to avoid a nurse who always hurts me when she accesses my port (doesn't really know how to use my kind of port? I've mentioned it to my doctor, who runs the infusion center). That was a smart move--no discomfort from the port at all. I'm still riding high on steroids tonight, of course.

Posts: 529
Joined: Oct 2016

So glad you got through chemo today with few side effects so far.  GOOD for you changing days- you should NEVER have to put up with someone hurting you- there is no good reason for that!  So glad you've been feeling more hopeful the last couple days.  I too was negotiating healthcare.gov looking to see how awful it is going to be this year.  My Ins. agent who was helping me said the same thing the other ladies said, if there are changes it wont be before the end of next year and even then they will have to put together a plan and then implement it.... thinks we have some time. (((Hugs))) tonight and prayers for feeling better than worse keep us posted :D

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