The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has been a challenging time for us all. It is especially so for cancer patients and survivors, who are at greater risk of getting sicker if they become infected with the virus because they might be immunocompromised.
On top of that, many patients and caregivers are struggling with financial hardship due to the coronavirus crisis. We’re hearing from patients and caregivers who have lost their jobs, or who are furloughed while their companies temporarily close, resulting in lost income and lost insurance coverage. Grocery costs are higher, as more people are relying on more expensive delivery services to avoid going to stores. Some patients are also facing extra expenses as a result of ordering more of their medications to be delivered at once, to reduce pharmacy visits.
If you’re experiencing financial hardship or emotional distress during these uncertain times, remember that you are not alone. It’s understandable to feel concerned, anxious or upset. The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) is here to help. Our Information Specialists, master’s level oncology professionals, are available to answer your questions and provide one-on-one support at 800-955-4572.
LLS is amplifying the free education and support we provide virtually, so you can find the help you need while staying at home. At the same time, we continue to advocate for policies to protect cancer patients during this crisis and beyond. Learn more about our latest advocacy efforts here.
LLS Financial Assistance Programs
On April 1, LLS launched the LLS COVID-19 Patient Financial Aid Program, providing an individual, one-time $250 stipend per patient, to help eligible blood cancer patients with non-medical expenses such as food, utilities, transportation and other household needs. Patients do not need to have a COVID-19 diagnosis and there are no income criteria to qualify.
The response has been overwhelming as we’ve provided more than $2 million to more than 8,500 patients to date, and the applications continue to come in. If you or someone you know with a blood cancer needs help, learn more here.
For Kay and David, a couple who have both been diagnosed with lymphoma, the aid came just in time.
“I can’t tell you how much I appreciate the help I’ve gotten from The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society,” says Kay. “Because my husband cannot do his semi-retirement job of tour bus driving, the funds will be very helpful with our groceries.”
In addition to this program, we offer other financial assistance programs to help offset expenses or provide financial support toward the cost of insurance co-payments and/or insurance premium costs for prescription drugs. Learn more here.
Other LLS Education & Support Resources
Navigating your finances during uncertain times can feel overwhelming. LLS offers our free Cancer and Your Finances booklet as well as printable worksheets to help you with budgeting, understanding your insurance plan, keeping track of questions to ask and more. If you have health insurance, it’s important to know what your plan covers. For example, many insurance providers are beginning to waive cost-sharing for telehealth services, so consider calling your healthcare insurance provider to learn about telehealth benefits offered under your plan.
Planning ahead is key. Assess your anticipated medical expenses over the coming weeks and whether your income might be impacted. Try to reduce unnecessary expenses in your household, and be sure to keep and organize copies of bills, receipts and other important documents, especially as new expenses might arise.
You can also turn to family and/or friends who you trust to help. Your family and friends can set up a record-keeping system to track bills and insurance claims, call public and private agencies to determine eligibility for financial assistance, entitlement programs and other benefits and help you feel supported.
Finally, it’s important to practice good self-care to help you cope with added stress. Recently, LLS hosted a webinar featuring Julie Larson, LCSW, Psychotherapist and Speaker-Educator, on Calming Anxiety and Fear: Coronavirus (COVID-19). Watch the recording here.
Finding connections and support can help you feel less alone. Join our online social network, LLS Community, where you can share your experiences with more than 14,000 patients, survivors and caregivers, stay current on the latest diagnosis and treatment news, and get personalized support from trained LLS staff. We also offer online chats, our Patti Robinson Kaufmann First Connection Program and so much more. If you’re a caregiver, find additional support addressing your unique needs here.
Some service providers, such as mortgage companies and power companies, are offering temporary relief from bills, but you should be sure to understand the terms of the arrangement before committing.
In addition, you can find information about the IRS Economic Impact Payments here.
And here is more information about services from other organizations:
Triage Cancer is a national nonprofit that provides education on the practical and legal issues that might impact individuals diagnosed with cancer and their caregivers. You can find helpful information on their blog here.
Healthwell Foundation COVID-19 Ancillary Costs: Accepting phone applications only at 800-675-8416; M-F from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Eastern.
Cancer Care Financial Assistance for COVID 19: Accepting phone applications only at 800-813-4673.
Patient Advocate Foundation (PAF): must be diagnosed or have been diagnosed within 6 months with COVID-19; Toll-free hotline at 1-855-824-7941, option 1
Patient Access Network Foundation (PAN): Must be diagnosed with COVID-19 or directed to self-quarantine; available at 1-866-316-7263 Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. - 7 p.m. ET.
Bristol Myers Squibb expanded its existing patient support programs to help eligible unemployed patients in the U.S. who have lost their health insurance due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Learn more at (800) 721-8909.
211 has set up a website just for COVID-19 with helpful resources and information here.