Strategies for Funding Cancer Treatments

August 23, 2023 | By Adam Lippman

Strategies for Funding Cancer Treatments

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Receiving a cancer diagnosis and undergoing treatment are among the most financially, emotionally, and physically stressful experiences. Unfortunately, cancer treatment comes at a high cost — and insurance often won’t cover the cost completely. Some cancer patients lack health insurance, so funding for necessary treatment is even more difficult. If you or someone you love needs help funding cancer treatments, you may be eligible for various financial assistance programs.

Learn several strategies for funding cancer treatment — with or without insurance — and where to begin your search for financial assistance.

How to Pay for Cancer Treatment With Insurance

 

How to Pay for Cancer Treatment With Insurance

While many funding options exist, insured cancer patients rely on their health insurance before using other strategies. If you have health insurance, your treatment expenses typically get billed to your insurance provider first. Unfortunately, most insurance providers won’t cover the complete cost of treatment.

Your provider and policy coverage will determine how much your treatment insurance will pay. Most insurance providers will only pay for certain treatment types, typically excluding clinic trials and many newer treatment options. You’re expected to cover any remaining balance on your medical bills after seeing what insurance will pay for.

Regardless of how much your insurance pays for your cancer treatment, you’ll likely still need to use alternative funding options. In addition to the cost of treatment, most cancer patients still need to cover expenses like:

  • Medications
  • Time off work
  • Pet or childcare
  • Travel and accommodations
  • Household bills like rent and utilities

Before diving into other ways to pay for treatment, consider these tips for understanding and managing cancer treatment costs.

Use Your Health Insurance Benefits

As mentioned above, you’ll likely use your existing health insurance policy to begin paying for your cancer treatment. In this case, it’s essential to thoroughly understand your health insurance policy and what benefits you can use. For example, your insurer likely has a network of doctors and healthcare professionals. You may be charged less for using doctors within your insurer’s network.

Talk to your provider about your coverage and understand what benefits are included in your plan so you can take advantage of your policy.

Explore Payment Plans

Rather than pay your entire cancer treatment bill at once, payment plans break up the amount owed into affordable payments. For example, you could make monthly payments on your bill over time. Payment plans are extremely common for cancer treatment expenses. Many healthcare providers will work with you to set up a payment plan that’s suitable for you.

Save on Medication

Medications are an associated cost of cancer treatment and can be covered by insurance. However, most medications have high out-of-pocket copays. You may be able to save on medication expenses by:

  • Opting for generic medicine brands, as they tend to be more affordable.
  • Signing up for drug discount programs or coupons to offset the cost.
  • Buying your medication in a three-month supply rather than one month.

Understand Your Treatment Options

Healthcare providers must discuss your treatment options and the associated costs, especially when receiving out-of-network care. You should understand the cost of treatment before receiving services to avoid unexpected medical expenses. Get estimates of what your insurance provider is likely to cover so you know what out-of-pocket expenses to expect.

Track Your Medical Bills and Records

With funding from various entities, keeping track of your treatment expenses is essential. Maintain a record of what payments you make and what your insurance pays for to ensure all your bases are covered. Tracking your bills and payments also helps you identify and dispute billing issues.

4 Ways to Pay for Cancer Treatments Without Medical Insurance

You may need alternative cancer treatment funding for many reasons. For example, your health insurance only covers a percentage of your medical bill, or you need financial assistance to pay for expenses outside of treatment. For most cancer patients, balancing their day-to-day expenses with cancer treatment costs is difficult, if not impossible. As such, you may need other ways to pay your bills. Various resources are available to cancer patients — you just need to know where to look.

Talk to the hospital staff and social workers where you receive your treatment for help finding local resources. From there, expand your search for funding to these common strategies.

1. Federal Government Resources

 

Federal Government Resources

If you’re uninsured when you get your cancer diagnosis, you may qualify for various federal health insurance or benefit programs. Federal government resources may offer more health coverage or additional benefits you didn’t have initially. If you need health insurance or financial assistance, consider these resources.

  • If you want to obtain health insurance, you may be able to find affordable policies through the Affordable Care Act.
  • Medicare and Medicaid are other options for health insurance and benefits for cancer patients with limited income or above the age of 65.
  • The Department of Veterans Affairs assists active U.S. military members, veterans, and their families with cancer resources.
  • You may be able to collect Social Security if your cancer treatment is causing you to miss work.

Federal resources are a great place to start if you lack cancer treatment funds or need insurance options. These programs are designed to help specific demographics, so you may have to meet strict criteria. Find out if you can get any financial assistance through the government before ruling out these resources.

2. Loans

Despite having to pay them back, personal loans can provide the upfront funds necessary to pay for your cancer treatment. Upon determining your total cost of treatment, you could get a loan for the same amount and use it to pay for treatments, medications, and more.

Since you will have to pay back the loan in monthly payments, this is typically best used as a last resort to the other options here. For example, if you can set up a payment plan with your healthcare provider, making those monthly payments directly on the treatment may be more beneficial. There are often better treatment funds available, though a loan may be best in certain situations.

3. Charities and Nonprofit Organizations

Through your research or hospital staff recommendations, you will find various charities, nonprofit organizations, and cancer programs that help patients fund their treatment. Some organizations support patients with specific types of cancer, while others provide general cancer support. Many organizations offer grants to cover living expenses while you receive treatment. You may also be eligible to receive copay relief or drug deductible support from various cancer nonprofit organizations. Each program has its own guidelines, so be sure to find eligibility for your situation.

Nonprofit support can range from financial assistance to transportation and cleaning services. These types of services help alleviate some aspects of stress associated with maintaining a household and getting to your appointments, especially if you are physically unable to do so yourself.

4. Life Settlement or Viatical Settlement

Life insurance policies are in place to provide for your loved ones financially in your absence, though they can be sold so you can use the funds in life. Life Settlements refer to selling a life insurance policy to a third party. Viatical Settlements are similar, though they are specifically for policy owners with life-threatening illnesses like cancer. Viatical Settlements are reserved for terminally ill policy owners with a life expectancy of fewer than four years. 

So what does this mean for cancer patients? Essentially, your eligibility for a Life Settlement vs. Viatical Settlement depends on your diagnosis and records from your doctor. For example, depending on the type and stage of cancer, your life expectancy may still be more than four years, in which case you would only be eligible for a Life Settlement. However, many cancers can quickly become life-threatening, in which case you may qualify for a Viatical Settlement. 

A Life Settlement can still be used to pay for cancer treatments, though you have to meet a few more requirements to be eligible. For example, you must be 65 years or older to get a Life Settlement, while you can be any age for a Viatical Settlement.

In other words, Life Settlements and Viatical Settlements are both options for many cancer patients — it just depends on your cancer diagnosis. If you are debating how to raise funds for cancer treatment, selling your life insurance policy could be an effective option. Life Settlements and Viatical Settlements typically offer large payouts, which can be used to pay for treatment, medicine, or other needs.

Benefits of Paying for Cancer Treatment With a Viatical Settlement

 

Benefits of Paying for Cancer Treatment With a Viatical Settlement

Life Settlements and Viatical Settlements are often overlooked as options for cancer treatment funding because many policy owners do not realize their life insurance policies are their property and can be sold as an asset. When you sell your life insurance policy in a settlement, you receive a lump sum, and the buyer takes over as the beneficiary and handles the premium payments. As such, Viatical Settlements offer significant benefits for individuals paying for cancer treatments.

End Premium Payments

Regardless of your diagnosis, trying to afford treatment while also paying the premium on your life insurance policy can be a bit much. The fewer bills you have outside of your medical expenses, the more funds you can allocate to your cancer treatment. While there are not many ways to avoid common household bills like utilities or mortgages, Viatical Settlements provide relief from potentially high life insurance premiums. 

As the new owner of your life insurance policy, the third-party buyer takes over the premium payments so they receive the death benefit. With insurance premiums still rising, a Viatical Settlement could give you one less bill to worry about and allow you to focus your funds where it matters most. 

Use the Funds How You Want

The funds you receive from a Life Settlement or Viatical Settlement are yours to use for anything. You have complete freedom over spending the financial resources from a settlement, making them ideal for cancer patients. 

For example, you could use your settlement payout to pay off any medical debt or existing medical expenses you accrue during treatment. You could use the funds to cover out-of-pocket treatment costs or prescription copays. Settlement funds can also be used for general financial support, covering the cost of child care, travel expenses, utility bills, or car payments. Or, if you already have most of your treatment expenses covered, you could even use settlement funds for bucket list items like a dream vacation. 

One of the biggest benefits of a Viatical Settlement is the ability to use your funds however you want. Other financial assistance resources, while helpful, may restrict how funds are used. You can avoid fund allocation restrictions with a Life Settlement or Viatical Settlement.

Get a Large Payout

Life Settlements and Viatical Settlements typically provide a significant payout. The value of your life insurance policy depends on numerous factors, including your health, policy size, and cost. However, you can expect it to be more than its surrender value and less than its death benefit value. This money often provides more financial assistance than other potential cancer resources. 

For example, many patients attempt to raise money using a GoFundMe account. While this method of raising funds for cancer treatment can be helpful, you usually cannot raise nearly as much money as a Viatical Settlement could provide. With a larger sum of funds, you will be better equipped to handle the cost of cancer treatment. 

Access the Funds Quickly

You will also get access to your settlement funds much more quickly than other financial assistance routes. Many cancer institutions receive a high volume of applicants, many of which end up on long waitlists because resources are so limited. While you may receive funding from such organizations over time, these resources typically do not process financial assistance fast enough to keep up with treatment bills or household expenses. Additionally, many middle-class cancer patients struggle to find financial assistance, while many resources exist for patients experiencing more financial hardship.

Life Settlements and Viatical Settlements provide quick payouts, typically giving policy owners access to their funds within weeks regardless of their current economic status. You can pay for your treatment sooner with quick access to your financial assistance. Quick access helps you avoid getting too far behind on your payments and incurring significant medical debt. 

Pay for Your Treatment With a Viatical Settlement From Settlement Benefits Association

 

Pay for Your Treatment With a Viatical Settlement From Settlement Benefits Association

Whether you are just starting cancer treatment or have previous bills collecting interest, it is common for patients to need help paying for treatment — even if insurance covers some of the expenses. At Settlement Benefits, we understand this is a difficult time for you and your loved ones, emotionally and financially. As such, we work to ensure you get the highest payout for your life insurance policy to cover cancer treatment costs or related financial hardships. 

Learn more about Life Settlements and Viatical Settlements, or calculate how much your life insurance policy could be worth.

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