Some cancer survivors are eligible for government-funded health insurance, disability benefits or cash payments. Many times patients are unaware of these programs and these benefits. The eligibility requirements and enrollment process can be complicated, but financial caseworkers and social workers can advise and help you throughout the process.
Apply to enroll in a public program as soon as you think you may qualify for benefits - many programs have waiting lists or waiting periods before covered benefits and services take effect.
Public health and financial assistance programs include:
- Medicare. Medicare doesn't cover all medical expenses, but patients can apply for supplemental insurance, sometimes called "Medigap." Call (800) MEDICARE (633-4227) or visit www.medicare.gov for more information.
- Medicaid. Each state has a Medicaid program with its own eligibility and coverage rules. Visit the Medicaid website or contact your state or local department of social services (or welfare office) for eligibility requirements.
- State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP). SCHIP provides free or subsidized health coverage for eligible children and is part of Medicaid in many states. Call (877) 543-7669 or visit www.insurekidsnow.gov.
- Hill-Burton Program. Federal law requires medical facilities that received federal aid for construction to offer free or low-cost medical services to patients unable to pay for treatment. Call (800) 638-0742 or visit http://www.hrsa.gov/gethealthcare/affordable/hillburton/.
- Veterans benefits. Call (800) 827-1000 or visit www.va.gov.
- Social Security Disability Income (SSDI). SSDI is an income replacement program for people unable to work because of a disabling condition. Call (800) 772-1213 or visit www.ssa.gov.
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI). SSI provides a monthly cash benefit for low-income people who are disabled, blind or 65 years or older. Call (800) 772-1213 or visit www.ssa.gov.
Obtaining or Adding to Healthcare Coverage
You can also contact your State Department of Insurance to find out whether the state has a high-risk pool, a program that makes health coverage available to people considered medically uninsurable. High-risk pools generally have strict eligibility requirements and may be more expensive than other health plans.
To find consumer health insurance guides by state, visit the Foundation for Health Coverage Education.