At the beginning of 2016, headlines all over the country read something like “63% Of Americans Don’t Have Enough Savings to Cover A $500 Emergency.” This alarming statistic was according to a 2015 study by Bankrate.com. What it really meant is that nearly two-thirds of us are living paycheck to paycheck. What does a $500 emergency look like– your car needs new breaks, your dog has to go to the vet, or your refrigerator breaks down. These are not uncommon expenses, and they shouldn’t be unexpected expenses. Nevertheless, 63% of us are not ready to face these everyday emergencies.
What happens when someone in that 63% of Americans is diagnosed with cancer? It can lead to a financial catastrophe. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), more Americans have health insurance than ever. But for many people, including those with health insurance coverage through their employers, that insurance doesn’t kick in until they meet their high deductible. If they don’t have $500 in savings, they certainly don’t have the money for their deductible, which often ranges from $1,000 – $10,000. For those without health insurance, they have to pay the entire cost of their cancer treatment. For those with insurance, patients often report being left with out-of-pocket costs ranging from $25,000 to $40,000, beyond what their insurance covered.
Cancer is expensive. Patients face a myriad of expensive diagnostic tests and therapies including CT scans, MRIs, surgery, chemotherapy and/or radiation, hospital stays, anesthesiologist fees, on-going multiple doctor visits, lab testing, and more. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, the cost of chemotherapy is going up 10% per year! And all of this doesn’t take into account lost wages, travel expenses, child care expenses, and other unexpected expenses that may come along with a cancer diagnosis.
If you find yourself or a loved one in this situation, there is help. Triage Cancer has many financial tools and resources available to you:
- CancerFinances.org is an interactive online tool to help you manage your finances.
- If you are wondering if bankruptcy is an option for you, we have a Quick Guide to Bankruptcy.
- We have financial assistance resources on our website.
- And, we have tools such as a budget worksheet and other online resources.
Talk with your health care team, as they may know of local resources, as well. The key is not to assume that you don’t qualify. If you don’t ask, you will never know. Remember, you aren’t the only one possibly living paycheck to paycheck.