Cancer insurance policy for patients with mesothelioma cancer or other types of cancer healthcare issues can be difficult to obtain. Knowing that you have certain rights and responsibilities as a patient, and how to handle cancer insurance issues, can help you through this part of dealing with your illness.
In 1973, the American Hospital Association put together a list of patient rights (revised in 1992). You can find the complete list at the American Cancer Society web site, http://www.cancer.org/docroot/MIT/content/MIT_3_2_Patients_Bill_Of_Rights.asp
Stated briefly, some of those rights include the right to a choice of providers and health care plans; the right to emergency care; the right to a full disclosure of information about your condition and your treatment, and about the people providing the treatment. A patient also has the right to participate in treatment decisions, to be treated with respect and without discrimination, and to the confidentiality of his or her medical information. A patient also has the right to complain and appeal decisions made by health care providers and cancer insurance companies.
Cancer patients must also take the responsibility of participating in his or her treatment. All of the following are ways you can be responsibly involved in your treatment:
- Practicing healthy habits like eating right, exercising, and not smoking
- Cooperate in developing your course of treatment, and complying with it
- Providing all information that has to do with your illness, and talking about your needs.
- Understanding your healthcare coverage; using the plan’s internal resources to gain more information and address problems; and abiding by the appropriate procedures
- Avoid knowingly spreading disease
- Understand that there are always risks, limits to what medical science can do, and that even doctors are fallible.
- Understand that your doctor has other patients who need time and treatment, too.
- Show respect for your medical providers and other patients
- Try in good faith to meet your financial obligations
Cancer Insurance Policy
Choosing an cancer insurance policy plan can be difficult, but there are sources of information that can help you.
If you are offered insurance through your employer (or a spouse’s employer), you can get information on the health plans they offer from the company’s Human Resources office or the health-plan administrator. Learning as much as you can about the benefits offered by each plan will help you make a better decision. You should be able to obtain an SPD (Summary Plan Description), which will tell you what your legal rights are, as well as the benefits offered by the plan.
You can also research the quality of the health-care plan from the Agency of Healthcare Research and Quality, at http://www.ahcpr.gov/consumer/. They make a variety of materials available to help you make a choice.
If your job or life circumstances change, you may be faced with changing health care plans, which often have clauses that say they won’t treat pre-existing conditions. COBRA (The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act) allows for extension of health benefits for a period of time if, for example, you leave your job or get divorced. This will also cover any dependents who would otherwise lose coverage — in the case of divorce, for example, the spouse of the covered person could pay to extend coverage for a period of time. HIPAA (the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) can also help if you are changing jobs. For more information about COBRA and HIPAA, you can visit the U.S. Health & Human Services web site, at http://www.hhs.gov/.
Medicare and Medicaid
You may be eligible for Medicare, a government program which is primarily for people who are over 65 (or who are on Social Security disability.) If you are eligible, it may provide hospital insurance at no charge, and medical insurance for a monthly premium. There is a web site for Medicare at http://www.medicare.gov/.
If your income is low, you may be eligible for Medicaid, another government program which is administered by the Health Care Financing Administration. For more information on eligibility and coverage, you can visit the Health & Human Services web site at https://www.medicaid.gov/
Other Financial Assistance for cancer insurance
If you don’t have adequate insurance coverage, there are resources that can help you pay for cancer treatment. One source for information about additional resources like this is the American Cancer Society web site: http://www.cancer.org/docroot/CRI/content/CRI_2_6X_Financial_Issues_7.asp?sitearea=CRI
CancerCare is a non-profit organization that provides various kinds of resources to help cancer patients and their families, including financial help. For more information, visit their web site at http://www.cancercare.org/
The National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD) is a non-profit organization that is dedicated to the prevention, treatment and cure of rare, “orphan” diseases like mesothelioma. This organization has a program to assist patients in getting high-cost medications they need but can’t afford, even if the patient’s income is too high to qualify for Medicaid or other programs.
Income Tax Deductions
Also remember that medical expenses which are not covered by insurance may be deductible on your income tax return. You can find information about what kinds of expenses are deductible from a tax consultant or the IRS. The IRS web site is http://www.irs.gov
Additional Cancer Patient Resources
Knowing where to find credible and accurate information is an important step in getting the most benefit from your health insurance. The following additional resources may help:
Social Security Administration (SSA),
Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA),
National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD’s), Medication Assistance Programs
Patient Advocate Foundation (PAF),