How Much Does Cancer Cost?

Photo by Vitaly Taranov on Unsplash

I have access to health insurance through my job. This is probably the best scenario a person diagnosed with cancer. But still, you can see below the cost of caring for cancer in America is overwhelming.

My treatment bills totaled $55,550. This was for testing and surgery, including the hospital stay. My insurance deductible was $3750 plus co-pays. The co-pays add up fast.

My husband and I had already been using the Total Money Makeover system before I was diagnosed with cancer. I highly recommend it.

Negotiate Your Medical Bills

As bills came in I had to remind myself not to freak out and that insurance would dispute some of them. Once my insurance company had negotiated them down, I disputed and negotiated the final bills. This is super important. Dig in and fight with billing administrators.

Ask for discounts, financial services departments, supervisors, and the like. You can usually lop something off a bill just by being tenacious, kind and persistent. It’s hard to do during treatment, but try not to get emotional– just be breathe and be persistent. Call every day if you have to and work on them until they give you what you need.

Keep Notes

Keep super accurate notes. When you are speaking with administrators in person or online, write down the date, time and ask for each person’s name. All of this served me greatly as I worked the system.

Payment Plans

Once you settle on a price, then set up a realistic payment plan. Pay what you can. If you run into trouble and can’t make a payment, call them. This will keep your bills from landing in collections and on your credit report. Never avoid calls from medical billing. Just pick up the phone and tell them the truth. I know this can be sure hard if you are feeling sick, are tired of the bureaucracy, or just simply depressed. You can do it!

Fundraise with Family & Friends

I hated this part. I was reluctant to do a fundraiser, but my friend Lilly told me to drop my ego and let people help. (THANK YOU to Lilly and everyone who helped during treatment! I needed you and you were there.)

After Treatment

I am now in a NED (no evidence of disease -wahoo!) state, but the bills continue. I have regular visits with my oncologist and lots of screenings that get expensive. But with my kind of genetic cancer (MSH6 / Lynch Syndrom) reoccurrence is common and screens are the best ways to ensure a long life. Catch it early, knock it out.

Including my cost of insurance, I continue to pay about $400 to $500 per month on medical expenses. We continue to live on a tight budget in an effort to get these obligations cared for.

The Cost of My Treatment

JAN 2018

  • $50 co-pay for follow up appt
  • $324 insurance

DEC 2017 

  • $440 hospital stay
  • $500 anesthesia for surgery
  • $50 co-pay for follow up appt
  • $16 labs
  • $21 labs
  • $40 pathology
  • $100 presurgical testing
  • $2009 lost wages
  • $324 insurance

NOV 2017

  • $78 medical supplies
  • $100 co-pay to hospital for surgery
  • $1300 biopsy surgery
  • $510 anesthesia for original biopsy
  • $100 MRI
  • $327 medical supplies
  • $19 lab tests
  • $40 pathology tests
  • $324 insurance

OCT 2017 

  • $50 co-pay for consult with urologist
  • $20 co-pay for surgical medical clearance
  • $50 co-pay for consult with surgeon
  • $324 insurance

SEPT 2017

  • $60 surgery deductible
  • $34 labs
  • $20 co-pay for medical clearance
  • $324 insurance

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