The CancerCare LegalHealth Clinic: Alan’s Story
For the past two years, Alan has attended a support group for gay male cancer survivors, co-run by CancerCare and SAGE (Services & Advocacy for GLBT Elders). During one of the group’s sessions, he mentioned having questions about enrolling in Medicare, and was referred to CancerCare’s free, onsite legal clinic by a social worker. These weekly legal clinics, offered as part of a collaboration between CancerCare and the LegalHealth division of the New York Legal Assistance Group (NYLAG), allow New York City residents with cancer and their caregivers to access legal assistance for cancer-related issues.
For Alan, this meant getting personalized advice for a complex choice. “I wanted guidance through the enrollment process,” Alan explains. “There’s a lot of information, and it’s a big decision. I wanted more information about Medicare Plus versus regular Medicare, and I wanted to make sure to choose a plan that covers the medications I need.”
Alan met with a LegalHealth attorney three or four times, both over the phone and in person, before making a decision. “She helped me find the right plans that covered my medications and care needs,” he says. The LegalHealth attorney also connected Alan with the Medicare Rights Center, a national nonprofit organization that helps people with Medicare understand their rights and benefits and navigate the Medicare system.
“The lawyer didn’t make the choice for me,” says Alan. “She helped me make the choice. There’s a lot of material out there, so you’re not deciding in complete darkness, but you want it to be a smooth transition. The LegalHeath attorney was good at guiding me through that decision.”
The CancerCare LegalHealth Clinic is held at CancerCare’s national office every Thursday. Referrals must be made by a CancerCare social worker, and appointments are mandatory. To schedule an appointment, contact the CancerCare Hopeline at 800-813-HOPE (4673). For more information about finding legal resources and support for issues related to a cancer diagnosis, read CancerCare’s fact sheet.