Financial toxicity, or financial hardship, describes difficulties cancer patients face related to the costs of a cancer diagnosis. There are a number of factors that contribute to financial distress – including out-of-pocket medical costs, insurance premiums, copayments, deductibles, coinsurance, and prescriptions – plus unexpected expenses like travel costs, childcare, or wigs. Add to that lost wages for the patient and sometimes the caregiver, and the financial impact of cancer can be devastating.
While the costs can be staggering, there are resources out there that can help some patients, such as Med Access, a MaineHealth-funded statewide program that can help patients save money on prescription medications. The program was founded in 2005 and has been a vital resource for patients with cancer and other serious diagnoses across the state.
We talked to Sarah Jones, a Program Manager at Med Access, to learn more about the program - which understands current program eligibility requirements and harnesses the most current resources. She said that the primary way they save patients money is by applying to the pharmaceutical companies for free prescription assistances. There are also various Foundations that provide help to people who have different diagnoses, cancer among them. Unfortunately, many of those programs open until the money runs out, or the eligibility changes, and then have to close - which is why Med Access was started.
If you or someone you know needs prescription funding help, Sarah urges you to give Med Access a call. The process can be done over the phone. They do a comprehensive screening to see if you have insurance, or are eligible for some type of coverage, whether it be MaineCare, the health insurance marketplace, or VA benefits. Then, they go further with the screening to see if you are eligible for the various programs they promote and will help complete the applications. It generally takes 4-6 weeks, and once approved, the patient receives a 90-120-day supply delivered to the patient’s home or their doctor’s office.
Studies of cancer survivors show that 1/3 of those surveyed had gone into debt, and of those who had gone into debt, 55% owed $10,000 of more. As MCF’s vision is to reduce the burden of cancer in Maine, we believe in sharing the resources available that reduce the hardship of cancer for people statewide. To learn more, call Med Access toll-free at 1-877-275-1787.
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