A diagnosis of cancer can take a devastating emotional toll on the patient and his family. Even for families with the most comprehensive of medical insurance, however, this diagnosis can also represent a staggering financial cost. Cancer can be an exceptionally expensive disease to manage and even with insurance managing the care and treatment of the patient, as well as personal costs for the family of the patient can be truly crippling. Understanding these costs from the beginning can help a family prepare for the financial obligations of cancer so that they are better able to plan for the management of these costs.
The primary cost cancer is paying for care, testing and treatment. Because patients suffering from cancer will often also cope with other conditions as a result of their compromised immune system and the effects of the cancer treatment itself, it is common for patients to have ongoing treatment relationships with multiple doctors throughout the course of the disease and require a variety of treatments. Medical costs associated with cancer include:
- Doctors’ appointments and check ups
- Screenings, blood and urine tests and other laboratory tests
- Chemotherapy, radiation therapy and cancer treatment drugs
- Surgical procedures to locate or remove cancerous growths
- Drugs to control side effects of therapy
- Nursing care
- Alternative therapy costs
- Medical equipment for the home such as a hospital bed, IV equipment and medical supplies
The cost of cancer is not limited to medical expenses. Patients and their families must also consider the related costs to each person involved throughout the course of the disease. These costs will vary depending on the individual patient and his needs, but can represent a difficult financial challenge because they are not covered by medical insurance. Personal costs associated with cancer include:
- Loss of income from not being able to work
- Loss of income for a partner or other family member that becomes a caregiver
- Child care costs
- Costs for taking care of the home such as a maid, dog walker or other people that help take care of the home and family
- Psychological support for the patient and the family.
The financial struggle associated with cancer can put additional strain on already frayed emotions and relationships. It is important for families to handle these challenges together and place focus on supporting and encouraging each other throughout the course of the disease.
Beth Simms is a financial coach who blogs about money management, debt, and personal loans on sites like this. She also maintains her own blog answering specific financial questions from clients and subscribers.