Q. I'm looking for help. I do not have insurance and do not think I qualify for any charitable help. I need surgery for breast cancer and chemotherapy. Is there anywhere I can get help?

A.

I understand your concern about not having insurance and being diagnosed with breast cancer and needing surgery and chemotherapy. This can be overwhelming and I hope to guide you in the right direction so that you can find assistance.

Listed below are resources for people who have been diagnosed with breast cancer and do not have medical insurance to cover the cost of their treatment:

  • Susan G. Komen (www.komen.org or 877-465-6636, Monday–Friday, 9:00 a.m.–10:00 p.m., EST). They can assist you in locating your local affiliate that provides grants to local community-based organizations providing education, screening and treatment programs. Some of these programs may include financial assistance programs to those that are uninsured.

  • The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid has information on your state’s Medicaid program eligibility requirements. Medicaid is a free, state insurance plan that covers the cost of medical care to those who qualify. Please visit: www.cms.hhs.gov/home/medicaid.asp.

  • Many state and corporate prescription assistance programs help patients obtain free or low-cost medications. To learn more about the patient assistance programs (PAPs) that are offered by pharmaceutical companies and states, visit the Partnership for Prescription Assistance at www.pparx.org or call 888-4PPA-NOW (888-477-2669).

  • The Foundation for Health Coverage Education’s mission is to simplify public and private health insurance eligibility information in order to help more people to access coverage. You can visit their website at www.coverageforall.org.

  • A social worker at the hospital where you will be receiving treatment often can provide referrals to local sources of financial aid. In addition, it might be helpful to explain your financial situation to the hospital’s business office and your physicians. Professionals involved in caring for you are well aware of the economic burden that cancer imposes on patients and families. They might be able to develop a plan to reduce costs or extend payments over a longer period of time.

Other organizations that may be of assistance to you during this time include:

  • CancerCare offers limited assistance for transportation, home care and child care for women who qualify. Limited funds are also available to assist with certain oral, pain, and anti-nausea medications, lymphedema supplies and durable medical equipment.

  • Patient Advocate Foundation offers a one time grant of $300 for qualified patients to cover expenses for lymphedema care and supplies, durable medical equipment, transportation costs associated with getting to and from treatment, prostheses and wigs or child care and/or elder care necessitated by treatment. Eligible patients include those who have been diagnosed and are in active treatment for breast cancer who fall within 250% or less of the federal poverty limits. For more information, call 855-824-7941.

For additional support, I encourage you to call CancerCare’s Hopeline at 800-813-4673 to speak to an oncology social worker.