Did you know that advocating for yourself can reduce your out-of-pocket medical costs? Let's review many of the associated costs and look at ways you can actively manage a lot of these costs.
The costs of myeloma treatment can really add up. Myeloma is cancer that you will probably be treated for a long period of time. Consequently, you will need to be prepared to successfully manage the associated cost for an extended period of time in addition to meeting your normal everyday expenses
According to an article in cancer.net, it was estimated that 32,270 adults in the US were diagnosed with Myeloma in 2020. Myeloma not only takes a toll on the health of patients and survivors, but it also causes a tremendous negative financial impact. Many of the medications used do not have biosimilars (a biosimilar is a biologic medical product highly similar to another already approved biological medicine) and they are extremely expensive. Until generics are introduced in the marketplace, patients will continue to bear the burden of the high cost. One, in particular, Revlimid, costs approximately $23.317 for a 28-day supply. Not surprisingly, the deductible could be crushing even after one or two months.
It isn’t surprising that because of the cost of cancer treatment many patients and families find themselves depleting savings, delaying or forgoing treatment, and possibly facing bankruptcy. This becomes more poignant when the cancer patient and or caregiver may have to stop working which in turn reduces income. Some factors that make a patient more likely to face financial hardship are individuals who are:
However, overall, there are a few immediate actions one can do to help reduce the burden.
We previously discussed contributing factors to the cost of healthcare such as premiums, co-pays, deductibles, insurance status/type of insurance, co-insurance, out-of-pocket maximums, in-network vs out-of-network, surprise or balance billing, as well as the treatment plan, geographic location, and treatment setting. There are also types of treatment costs: surgery, radiation, pharmacological therapy, stem cell transplants, clinical trials, blood transfusions, perhaps supportive or palliative care, rehabilitative therapy, mental health services, nutrition counseling, and the lists go on and on. Don’t forget the multiple healthcare providers and specialists providing their services, as well as accidental costs such as travel and lodging for care. As overwhelming as this can be, there are financial resources that can help you pay for your care and stay on track with your cancer treatment.
Don't be surprised when after moving through these steps you become less stressed, and more empowered to ask the questions you need throughout the continuum of your care.
Statistics adapted from the websites of the American Cancer Society and the National Cancer Institute's Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) Program (sources accessed February 2021)
If you would like more guidance on finances and myeloma consider joining the Myeloma Crowd Community Financial Coach Chapter. This chapter meets monthly to provide information on a variety of financial topics. The next meeting will be held on March 2 at 11:00 a.m. MT and will be providing a briefing on Benefits for Veterans. There are also Myeloma Coaches (who are myeloma patients or caregivers) available with experience navigating the financial impact of myeloma.
Find or become a myeloma coach
about the author
Diahanna is the Financial Program Manager for the HealthTree Foundation. She specializes in providing financial help, resources and education for multiple myeloma patients. As a professional financial consultant and former caregiver of her husband who was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, Diahanna perfectly understands the financial issues facing myeloma patients.