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Q. My sister was diagnosed with cancer recently, and she has no health insurance (she does not qualify for Medicaid). What can she do?


If your sister was previously employed and receiving health insurance coverage through her employment inquire about COBRA which will help her keep that insurance. Another option of getting coverage is through the Health Insurance Marketplace for the state that she lives in. You can do that through The Health Insurance Marketplace will ask questions in order to determine what coverage is available for her needs as well as what her current budget allows. These two options are available to help her get coverage, but it will also require a fee for the coverage. If the fees are a too much for her current budget then a suggestion is to look into Insurance Premium Payment programs that might help offset some of the costs.

If paying for insurance coverage at this time is not in the realm of possibilities, then you can reach out to hospitals that might offer charity care. Charity care will help get some kind of treatment but it depends on the hospital what their charity care consists of. Another option is to see if there are hospitals that have their own insurance network. Some hospitals and cancer centers offer their own in-house insurance which is only valid within the facility for services. The last option for receiving services is to inquire about patient assistance programs within the hospital or cancer center. Patient assistance programs can help by providing a grant, payment plans, sliding scale or resources about other grants to help cover the costs.

If you need any additional resources or assistance, CancerCare offers a number of publications with resources for financial assistance. Below are two of them:

If you would like a little more personalized experience CancerCare offers a Resource Navigation Program free of charge that will provide you with a case manager who can assist in locating local financial and emotional support resources.

Lastly, another resource is that offers a toolkit for navigating finances after a cancer diagnosis.

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