Financial Help for a Cancer Patient

••• Image by, courtesy of Daniel Lobo

Cancer has the capacity to place a huge financial weight on a person's shoulders. Patients often accumulate mounting debt because of costly treatments. Even if a person has medical insurance coverage, paying for deductibles can begin to deplete an individual's finances. Fortunately, resources for cancer patients is growing, and finding help can ease the financial burden.


Many cancer patients pay for treatment through healthcare insurance. However, insurance doesn't always cover everything. When battling cancer, it’s important that the individual keeps all healthcare paperwork organized. Individuals should keep track of letters, bills, claim forms and anything else that comes into the house that is health related. Information that comes from the doctor or insurance provider should never be discarded. This is important because these types of documents are often later needed to appeal if the insurance company denies payment for a treatment.

Government Programs

According to the National Cancer Institute, there are several places that cancer patients can receive financial assistance. One program is the Hill-Burton program. Hill-Burton is a federal government program that is designed for patients who cannot afford to pay for their hospitalization. Another program is called CancerCare, which is a national agency that offers information, support and financial assistance to people with cancer.


Life-threatening illnesses that need a lot of medical care also need a lot of income. In many states, cancer patients can use their life insurance policy as a source of income. This is called “living benefits.” The most common living benefit is called a viatical. A vitacial means that the person sells his life insurance policy to a third party for cash. Viaticals normally happen when someone has a limited life expectancy. The life expectancy must be certified by a doctor in order to receive the viatical. The downside to a viatical is that the individual’s heirs do not receive insurance money.

Local Programs

Cancer patients also should consider local programs that will help them with non-medical expenses like mortgage or groceries. According to Donna Duncan, the executive director of the Linda Creed Breast Cancer Foundation, cancer patients may be more likely to get non-medical assistance from local organizations than national ones. Because cancer is an expensive illness, it’s wise to investigate both local and national resources.


One of the last things that cancer patients want to think about is money, however, as a cancer patient, mounting health bills can be an issue. Healthcare benefits don’t always cover everything, and even individuals who are considered well-insured, can suffer from financial problems. Thankfully, there are financial resources available that can help an individual financially.