Financial Assistance and Other Resources for People With Cancer
Cancer imposes heavy economic burdens on both patients and their families. For many people, a portion of medical expenses is paid by their health insurance plan. For individuals who do not have health insurance or who need financial assistance to cover health care costs, resources are available, including Government-sponsored programs and services supported by nonprofit organizations. Cancer patients and their families should discuss any concerns they may have about health care costs with their physician, medical social worker, or the business office of their hospital or clinic.
Listed below are Government agencies, organizations, and programs that are
designed to provide assistance for cancer patients and their families. However,
resources provided by individual organizations vary, and it is important to
check with a specific group to determine if financial aid is currently available.
Organizations that provide publications in Spanish or have Spanish-speaking
staff have been identified. This fact sheet is divided into four sections: Cancer
Treatment, Practical Needs, Other Resources, and International Resources.
- Hill-Burton is a program through which hospitals receive
construction and modernization funds from the Federal Government. Hospitals
that receive Hill-Burton funds are required by law to provide a reasonable
volume of services to people who cannot afford to pay for their hospitalization
and make their services available to all residents in the facility’s
area. Information about Hill-Burton facilities is available by calling the
toll-free number or visiting the Web site shown below. A brochure about the
program is available in Spanish.
- 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). 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.
The Breast and Cervical Cancer Treatment Act provides,
in most states, Medicaid coverage for treatment to women who have been screened
for and diagnosed
cancer, including precancerous
conditions, through the National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection
Program. For more information about eligibility and contacts for this program,
visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) “Breast and
Cervical Cancer Prevention and Treatment Act of 2000” Web page, which is
located at http://www.cdc.gov/CANCER/nbccedp/legislation/law106-354.htm
on the Internet.
- 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 is divided into
two parts, Part A and Part B. Part A pays for hospital care, home health
care, and care in Medicare-certified nursing facilities. Part B covers medically
necessary services, including diagnostic
studies, physicians' services, durable home medical equipment, and ambulance
transportation; Part B also covers screening
exams for several types of cancer. 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.
The State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP)
is a Federal-State partnership that offers low-cost or free health insurance
coverage to uninsured infants, children, and teens. Callers will be referred
to the program in their state for further information about what the program
covers, who is eligible, and the minimum qualifications. In most states,
uninsured children age 18 and younger whose families earn up to $34,100
a year (for a family of four) are eligible. For a list of health insurance
coverage and eligibility by state, go to http://www.insurekidsnow.gov/states.asp
on the Internet.
- The Veterans Administration (VA) provides eligible veterans
with treatment for service-connected injuries and other medical conditions.
The VA offers limited medical benefits to family members of eligible veterans.
The VA cancer program provides users of the veterans health care system
easy access to cancer prevention,
detection, and treatment services. Its Web site offers cancer facts, information
about care, a list of VA-designated comprehensive cancer centers, and the
VA's national cancer strategy. For more information about the VA cancer program,
visit the VA Cancer Web page at http://www1.va.gov/cancer/index.cfm
on the Internet. Some publications are available in Spanish. Spanish-speaking
staff are available in some offices.
- CancerCare is a national nonprofit agency that
offers free support, information, financial assistance, and practical help
to people with cancer and their loved ones. Financial assistance is given
in the form of limited grants for certain treatment expenses. Services are
provided by oncology
social workers and are available in person, over the telephone, and through
the agency's Web site. CancerCare's reach also extends to professionals—providing
education, information, and assistance. A section of the CancerCare
Web site and some publications are available in Spanish, and staff
can respond to calls and e-mails in Spanish. Information about financial
assistance for all cancers is available at http://www.cancercare.org/get_help/assistance/cc_financial.php
on the Internet.
CancerCare has also partnered with Susan G. Komen for the Cure to create the Linking A.R.M.S. program, which provides limited financial assistance for hormonal and oral chemotherapy, pain and antinausea medication, lymphedema supplies, and durable medical equipment for women with breast cancer.
- The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS) offers information
and financial aid to patients in significant financial need who have leukemia,
lymphoma, or multiple
myeloma. The LLS's “Patient Financial Aid” Web page provides more information
about the types of service available, application forms, and eligibility requirements
on the Internet.
- The National Marrow Donor Program® (NMDP)
offers financial assistance through its Marrow Foundation® Patient Assistance
Program (the fund-raising partner of the NMDP). The Patient Assistance Program
helps patients pay for searching the NMDP Registry and/or for some post-transplant
costs. Applications for Patient Assistance Program funds must be submitted
by an NMDP transplant center. Eligible patients may ask their transplant center
coordinator to apply for one or both programs (search assistance and/or transplant
NeedyMeds is a 501(3)(c) nonprofit organization with
the mission of helping people who cannot afford medicine or health care
costs. The information at NeedyMeds can be obtained anonymously and is free
of charge. NeedyMeds is an information source similar to the Yellow Pages;
it does not supply medications or financial assistance, but helps people
find assistance programs and other available resources.
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 PAF also conducts outreach to African American and Hispanic/Latino
The Colorectal CareLine is designed to provide assistance
to patients with colorectal cancer. It offers financial aid through the Financial
Aid Fund for those diagnosed with colorectal cancer. For more information
about the Colorectal CareLine, visit http://www.colorectalcareline.org/
or call 1–866–657–8634.
The Co-Pay Relief Program provides limited payment
assistance for medicine to insured patients who financially and medically
qualify. For more information about the Co-Pay Relief Program, visit
http://www.copays.org or call 1–866–512–3861.
- 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 or visit the drug manufacturer's Web site. Most
pharmaceutical companies will have a section titled “patient assistance
programs” on their Web site.
In addition to cancer treatments, many cancer patients need assistance
paying for transportation to and from medical appointments and basic living
expenses such as food and housing. Listed below are organizations dedicated
to helping cancer patients and their families during and after the patient's
- Eldercare Locator is a referral service provided
by the U.S. Administration on Aging, an agency within the U.S. Department
of Health and Human Services. Eldercare Locator information specialists
will link callers with state and area agencies on aging for information
and referral to local agencies that provide a wide array of senior services.
This service is available Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 8:00
p.m., Eastern time.
- GovBenefits.gov is a partnership of Federal agencies
with a shared vision to provide improved, personalized access to government
assistance programs. This Web site's online screening tool is free,
easy-to-use, and completely confidential. The user answers a series
of questions, then the Web site generates a list of government benefit
programs that the user may be eligible to receive, along with information
about how the user can apply.
The Social Security Administration (SSA) is the
Government agency that oversees Social Security and Supplemental Security
Income. Social Security provides monthly income for eligible elderly
and disabled individuals. More information about these and other SSA
programs is available by calling the toll-free number listed below.
Spanish-speaking staff are available. Additional contact information
for the SSA is available at http://www.ssa.gov/reach.htm
on the Internet.
Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is administered
by the SSA and supplements Social Security payments for aged, blind,
and disabled people with little or no income. It provides cash to meet
basic needs for food, clothing, and shelter. Information on eligibility,
coverage, and how to file a claim is available from the SSA. The Benefit
Eligibility Screening Tool is available at https://s044a90.ssa.gov/apps7/best/benefits/
on the Internet.
- The National Brain Tumor Foundation (NBTF) provides financial
assistance to patients through its Patient Help Fund. The Patient Help Fund
assists patients with treatment-related expenses, medication copays, and transportation
to treatment. Financial assistance applications are reviewed on a monthly
basis, and awards range from $100 to $1,000.
- The Lymphoma Research Foundation (Patient Services)
offers a patient aid grant program, which provides up to $250 for “quality
of life” expenses, including travel and transportation, temporary
lodging, childcare, home care, cosmetic aids, medical devices, and hygiene
products. In addition, uninsured or underinsured applicants can indicate
on their application and discuss with the Program Coordinator if they
have accumulated medical debts. Funds are available to reimburse health
care providers for patients’ hospital or physician bills that insurance
will not reimburse.
- The American Cancer Society (ACS) offers programs
that help cancer patients, family members, and friends cope with the treatment
decisions and emotional challenges they face. To get information about
these programs, call the national ACS office, or find a local ACS office
by typing your location into the search boxes on the “My Local ACS Office”
Web page at http://www.cancer.org/asp/search/mla/mla_global.asp?navToScreen=mla_0
on the Internet. Some materials are published in Spanish. Spanish-speaking
staff are available.
The Health Insurance Assistance Service (HIAS/ACS)
aids cancer patients who have lost or are in danger of losing their
health care coverage, along with identifying policy solutions to help
others in similar situations. The service, a joint effort of the ACS
and the Georgetown University Health Policy Institute, connects cancer
patients who call the ACS cancer information number with health insurance
specialists who work to address their needs.
Hope Lodge, a temporary housing program supported
by ACS, provides free, temporary housing facilities for cancer patients
who are undergoing treatment. For more information about this program,
or to find locations of Hope Lodges, call the ACS's toll-free number
above or visit the Hope Lodge Web page at http://www.cancer.org/docroot/SHR/content/SHR_2.1_x_Hope_Lodge.asp
on the Internet.
The Road to Recovery is an ACS service program
that provides transportation for cancer patients to their treatments
and home again. Transportation is provided according to the needs
and available resources in the community and can be arranged by calling
the toll-free number or by contacting the local ACS office.
The ACS offers Taking Charge of Money Matters ,
a workshop for people with cancer and their loved ones about financial
concerns that may arise during or after cancer treatment, regardless
of the person's health insurance coverage. The session provides an opportunity
to discuss financial matters with guest speakers who are knowledgeable
about financial planning. More information about this workshop is available
on the ACS Web page at http://www.cancer.org/docroot/SHR/content/SHR_2.1_x_Taking_Charge_of_Money_Matters.asp
on the Internet.
The ACS's "tlc" Tender Loving Care®
publication contains helpful articles and information, including products
for women coping with cancer or any cancer treatment that causes hair
loss. Products include wigs, hairpieces, breast forms, prostheses, bras,
hats, turbans, swimwear, and helpful accessories at the lowest possible
prices. The publication strives to help women facing cancer treatment
cope with the appearance-related side
effects of cancer. To request a copy of "tlc," call 1–800–850–9445,
or visit "tlc" at http://www.tlccatalog.org
on the Internet.
- The Brain Tumor Society is a national nonprofit agency
that provides information about brain
tumors and related conditions for patients and their families. Financial
assistance is given through the agency's BTS CARES Financial Assistance Program.
This program provides supplementary financial assistance to individuals experiencing
financial need. This program covers specific nonmedical costs related to a primary
brain tumor diagnosis. Direct medical expenses are not covered.
- CancerCare operates the AVONCares Program
for Medically Underserved Women, in partnership with the Avon
Foundation. This program provides financial assistance to low-income,
under- and uninsured, underserved women throughout the country who need
supportive services (transportation, child care, and home care) related
to the treatment of breast and cervical cancers.
The LIVESTRONG SurvivorCare partnership
between CancerCare and the Lance Armstrong Foundation provides
financial assistance to cancer survivors. For patients who are 6 months
post-treatment with no evidence of disease, limited financial assistance
is available for transportation to follow-up
appointments, medical copays, cancer-related medications, and neuropsychological
- The National Patient Travel Helpline provides information
about all forms of charitable, long-distance medical air transportation
and provides referrals to all appropriate sources of help available in
the national charitable medical air transportation network.
Ronald McDonald Houses, supported by Ronald McDonald
House Charities, provide a "home away from home" for families of seriously
ill children receiving treatment at nearby hospitals. Ronald McDonald
Houses are temporary residences near the medical facility, where family
members can sleep, eat, relax, and find support from other families
in similar situations. In return, families are asked to make a donation
ranging on average from $5 to $20 per day, but if that isn't possible,
their stay is free. To search for a Ronald McDonald House location,
go to http://www.rmhc.org/search_cm
on the Internet.
In addition to the Government-sponsored programs and organizations already
listed, these general resources may also be helpful:
The Health Resources and Services Administration's (HRSA) Bureau
of Primary Health Care offers Health Centers that provide
health care to low-income and other vulnerable populations. Health Centers
care for people regardless of their ability to pay. They provide primary
and preventive health care, as well as services such as transportation
and translation. To locate a Health Center, visit the "Service Delivery
Sites" Web page at http://ask.hrsa.gov/pc/
on the Internet.
Some nonprofit community hospitals are able to provide
care for patients in need of financial assistance. Other hospitals have
indigent or charity care programs funded by state and local governments.
For information about these programs, contact a hospital social worker,
who will be able to explain these types of programs. Another type of
assistance may be offered through your local health department. The
National Cancer Institute's (NCI) Cancer Information Service may be
able to provide information about local programs by phone at 1–800–4–CANCER.
The NCI is a component of the National Institutes of Health.
State and local social services agencies can provide
help with food, housing, prescription drugs, transportation, and other
medical expenses for those who are not eligible for other programs.
Information can be obtained by contacting your state or local agency;
this number is found in the local telephone directory.
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) can provide information
about tax deductions for medical costs that are not covered by insurance
policies. For example, tax deductible expenses might include mileage
for trips to and from medical appointments, out-of-pocket costs for
treatment, prescription drugs or equipment, and the cost of meals during
lengthy medical visits. Deductible-qualified medical expenses include
those incurred by the patient, spouse, and dependents. Medical expenses
may also be deducted for someone who would have qualified as a dependent
for the purpose of taking personal exemptions except that the person
did not meet the gross income or joint return test. Nursing
home expenses are allowable as medical expenses in certain instances.
If the patient, a spouse, or dependent is in a nursing home, and the
primary reason for being there is for medical care, the entire cost,
including meals and lodging, is a medical expense. The local IRS office,
tax consultants, or certified public accountants can determine whether
medical costs are tax deductible.
Community voluntary agencies and service organizations
such as the United Way of America , Salvation Army, Lutheran Social
Services, Jewish Social Services, and Catholic Charities may offer help.
These organizations are listed in your local phone directory. Some churches
and synagogues may provide financial help or services to their members.
The Candlelighters® Childhood Cancer Foundation
(CCCF) is a nonprofit organization that provides information,
peer support, and advocacy through publications, an information clearinghouse,
and a network of local support
groups. The CCCF Web site contains a list of organizations to which
eligible families can apply for financial assistance. This list is available
on the Internet. In addition, some local CCCF affiliates offer financial
The NCI is the principal cancer research organization in the United States
and has limited information about financial resources for people living
outside this country. Patients and their families are strongly encouraged
to speak with their doctor, medical social worker, or the business office
of their hospital or clinic about health care costs. Cancer patients and
their families can also inquire about Government-sponsored programs and
services supported by volunteer organizations in their country. There are
a great many organizations and facilities that provide assistance to people
with cancer. Cancer information services are available in many countries
to provide information and answer questions about cancer; they may also
be able to help locate financial assistance close to where you live. A list
of these cancer information services is available on the International Cancer
Information Service Group's (ICISG) Web site at http://www.icisg.org/meet_memberslist.htm
on the Internet or may be requested by writing to the NCI Public Inquiries
Office, Cancer Information Service, Room 3036A, 6116 Executive Boulevard,
MSC 8322, Bethesda, MD 20892–8322, USA. The ICISG is an independent
international organization composed of cancer information services. Their
mission is to provide high-quality cancer information services and resources
to those concerned about, or affected by, cancer throughout the world.
The International Union Against Cancer (UICC) is another resource for people
living outside the United States. The UICC consists of international cancer-related
organizations devoted to the worldwide fight against cancer. UICC membership
includes research facilities and treatment centers, and in some countries,
ministries of health. Other members include volunteer cancer leagues, associations,
and societies. These organizations serve as resources for the public and
may have helpful information about a variety of topics, including financial
assistance. To find a resource in or near your country, you can search the
UICC's Membership Directory at http://www.uicc.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=14330&Itemid=29
on the Internet or contact the UICC at:
International Union Against Cancer (UICC)
62 route de Frontenex
|| + 41 22 809 18 11
Some people living outside the United States may wish to have their cancer
treatment in this country and require financial assistance to do so. Many
facilities in the United States treat international cancer patients. These
facilities may also provide support services, such as language interpretation,
assistance with travel, and guidance in finding accommodations near the
treatment facility for patients and their families. They might also be aware
of resources that provide financial assistance to international patients.
If you live outside the United States and would like to obtain cancer treatment
in this country, you should contact cancer treatment facilities directly
to find out whether they have an international patient office. The NCI-Designated
Cancer Centers database provides contact information for NCI-designated
cancer centers throughout the United States. This database is located at
on the Internet. Users can select all cancer centers or search by location,
type of cancer center, or cancer center name.
For additional information about the process and requirements involved
when traveling to the United States for treatment, you can review the "Finding
a Treatment Facility for Patients Living Outside the United States" section
of the NCI fact sheet How To Find a Doctor or Treatment Facility If
You Have Cancer located at http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/Therapy/doctor-facility
on the Internet.
# # #
Related NCI materials and Web pages:
For more help, contact:
- NCI's Cancer Information Service
Telephone (toll-free): 1–800–4–CANCER (1–800–422–6237)
TTY (toll-free): 1–800–332–8615
LiveHelp® online chat: https://cissecure.nci.nih.gov/livehelp/welcome.asp
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